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Flight Delays in July Decrease From Previous Month

Flight Delays in July Decrease From Previous Month

DOT 159-04
Bill Mosley

Thursday, September 2, 2004 - The nation's largest airlines experienced better on-time performance in July than in June this year, although July's rate of delays was higher than those 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 75.9 percent in July. This represented an improvement over June's 73.0 percent on-time rate, but was still below July 2003's rate of 79.7 percent.

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

The carriers filing on-time performance reported that 8.06 percent of their July flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 9.76 percent in June; 6.97 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.78 percent in June; 5.96 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.06 percent in June; 1.08 percent by extreme weather, compared to 1.59 percent in June; and 0.07 percent for security reasons, the same percentage as in June. Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category. This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT's Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved. Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category. Airlines first began reporting causes of delays in June 2003.

Data collected by BTS also shows the percentage of overall flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In July, 5.84 percent of flights were delayed by weather, down 7.6 percent from July 2003, when 6.32 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and down 30.5 percent from June when 8.4 percent of flights were delayed by weather.

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

Flight Cancellations

The consumer report also includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In July, the carriers canceled 1.6 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, slightly more than both July 2003's 1.4 percent and June 2004's 1.5 percent.

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.99 reports per 1,000 passengers in July, higher than July 2003's 4.37 rate but an improvement over June 2004's 5.05.

Complaints About Airline Service

In July, the department received 620 complaints from consumers about airline service, 0.6 percent more than the total of 616 received in July 2003 and 10.5 percent more than the 561 filed in June 2004.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in July against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The department received a total of 61 disability-related complaints in July, 69.4 percent more than the 36 received in July 2003 and 60.5 above the total of 38 filed in June 2004.

Complaints About Discrimination

In July, the department received 22 complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – compared to the totals of 11 received in July 2003 and five in June 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 July 2004
Key On-Time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

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


75.9 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 97.0 percent
2. SkyWest Airlines – 84.4 percent
3. Alaska Airlines – 78.8 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. American Eagle Airlines – 69.7 percent
2. Atlantic Coast Airlines – 70.0 percent
3. Delta Air Lines – 72.9 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

1. Comair flight 5825 from Boston to Portland, ME – late 100 percent of the time
2. America West flight 406 from San Francisco to New York JFK – late 93.55 percent of the time
3. Southwest Airlines flight 2220 from Albuquerque, NM to Phoenix – late 92.31 percent of the time
4. Continental Airlines flight 863 from Newark, NJ to Los Angeles – late 92.00 percent of the time
4. ExpressJet flight 2383 from Burlington, VT to Newark, NJ – late 92.00 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. American Eagle Airlines – 4.4 percent
2. Atlantic Coast Airlines – 3.9 percent
3. Comair – 3.3 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. JetBlue Airways – 0.0 percent*
2. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.2 percent
3. Southwest Airlines – 0.5 percent

*JetBlue cancelled two of 7,720 scheduled flights in July.