Wednesday, May 5, 2004 - The nation's largest airlines experienced fewer flight delays in March than in February but had a slightly higher rate of delays than a year ago, 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 81.3 percent in March. This improved on the 77.5 on-time arrival percentage of February but fell below the 82.6 percent rate posted in March 2003, when 17 carriers filed on-time performance reports.
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.
In March, the carriers filing on-time performance reported that 7.31 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 9.01 percent in February; 5.08 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 5.72 percent in February; 4.28 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.83 percent in February; 0.58 percent by extreme weather, compared to 1.06 percent in February; and 0.05 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.06 in February. 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.
Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available on the BTS site on the World Wide Web at http://www.bts.gov .
The consumer report also includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In March, the carriers canceled 1.3 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, well below the 1.7 percent rate recorded in both March 2003 and February 2004.
The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.29 reports per 1,000 passengers in March, an improvement over both March 2003's rate of 4.33 and February 2004's 4.93 mark. For the first quarter of this year, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.92, up from the 4.71 rate of January-March 2003 when 17 carriers filed mishandled-baggage reports.
The report also includes airline reports of involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, for the first quarter of this year. Of the 19 U.S. carriers that report on-time performance and mishandled baggage data, 17 are also required to report their bumping data to DOT. For the first quarter of 2004, the carriers recorded a bumping rate of 1.07 per 10,000 passengers, up from the 0.90 rate recorded in the first quarter of 2003 for the 14 carriers listed in that report.
In March, the department received 642 complaints from consumers about airline service, 19.6 percent more than the 537 received in March 2003 but 2.9 percent fewer than the total of 661 filed in February 2004. During the first quarter of this year, consumers registered 1,983 complaints, up 18.6 from the total of 1,672 registered during January-March 2003.
The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in March against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The department received a total of 44 disability-related complaints in March, 83.3 percent more than the 24 received in March 2003 but 12 percent fewer than the 50 filed in February 2004. During the first quarter of this year, consumers registered 139 disability-related complaints, up 80.5 percent from the total of 77 filed during January-March 2003.
In March, the department received 11 complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability - such as race, religion, national origin or sex - compared to the totals of three received in March 2003 and seven in February 2004. During the first quarter of this year, consumers filed 29 discrimination complaints, up 31.8 from the total of 22 filed during January-March 2003.
Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, Room 4107, 400 7 th St., S.W. , Washington , DC 20590 ; by e-mail at email@example.com; 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 http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov. It is available in "pdf" and Microsoft Word format.
Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 19 Reporting Carriers
81.3 percent on-time arrivals
*JetBlue cancelled three of 7,365 scheduled flights in March.