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Flight Delays Decrease in February

Flight Delays Decrease in February

DOT 46-04
Bill Mosley

Thursday, April 1, 2004 - The nation's largest airlines experienced fewer flight delays in February, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to information filed with the department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 77.5 percent in February, better than both the 76.6 percent figure in February 2003 and the 74.9 figure in January 2004. A total of 17 carriers filed on-time performance reports in February 2003.

The monthly report also includes data on the causes of flight delays, as well as information on flight cancellations, reports of mishandled baggage filed with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Causes of Flight Delays

In February, the carriers filing on-time performance reported that 9.01 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 9.24 percent in January; 5.72 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 5.73 percent in January; 4.83 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.56 percent in January; 1.06 percent by extreme weather, compared to 1.35 percent in January; and 0.06 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.07 in January. The department noted that weather is a factor not only in the extreme-weather category, but also in the aviation-system category - which includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT's Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved - and the late-arriving aircraft category. Airlines first began reporting causes of delays in June 2003.

Flight Cancellations

The consumer report also includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In February, the carriers canceled 1.7 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, well below both February 2003's rate of 4.0 percent and January 2004's 3.0 percent.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available on the BTS site on the World Wide Web at

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.93 reports per 1,000 passengers in February, up very slightly from February 2003's rate of 4.91 but well below January 2004's 5.91.

Complaints About Airline Service

In February, the department received 661 complaints about airline service from consumers, 49.9 percent more than the 441 received in February 2003 but 2.7 percent fewer than the total of 679 filed in January 2004.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in February against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The department received a total of 50 disability-related complaints in February, more than double the total of 23 filed in February 2003 and 11.1 percent more than the 45 received in January 2004.

Complaints About Discrimination

In February, the department received seven complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability - such as race, religion, national origin or sex - compared to the totals of six received in February 2003 and 11 in January 2004.

Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, Room 4107, 400 7th St., S.W., Washington, DC 20590; by e-mail at; by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511.

Consumers who want on-time performance data for specific flights should call their airline ticket offices or their travel agents. This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents.

The Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOT's World Wide Web site at It is available in "pdf" and Microsoft Word format.

Air Travel Consumer Report February 2004
Key On-time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 19 Reporting Carriers


77.5 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Hawaiian Airlines - 89.6 percent
  2. JetBlue Airways - 88.2 percent
  3. US Airways - 83.5 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. AirTran Airways - 65.7 percent
  2. Delta Air Lines - 70.9 percent
  3. America West Airlines - 71.7 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

  1. America West Airlines flight 12 from Phoenix to New York JFK - late 100 percent of the time
  2. Atlantic Coast Airlines flight 7517 from Chicago O'Hare to Syracuse, NY - late 94.44 percent of the time
  3. Atlantic Coast Airlines flight 7442 from South Bend, IN to Chicago O'Hare - late 94.44 percent of the time
  4. Alaska Airlines flight 225 from Los Angeles to Seattle - late 93.10 percent of the time
  5. Atlantic Coast Airlines flight 7649 from Hartford, CT/Springfield, MA to Chicago O'Hare - late 89.66 percent of the time
  6. Delta Air Lines flight 2103 from Dayton, OH to Atlanta - late 89.66 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Atlantic Southeast Airlines - 3.4 percent
  2. Comair - 3.2 percent
  3. Atlantic Coast Airlines - 2.7 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. JetBlue Airways - 0.1 percent
  2. Continental Airlines - 0.4 percent
  3. ExpressJet Airlines - 0.4 percent