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Flight Delays in August Decrease From Previous Month

Flight Delays in August Decrease From Previous Month

DOT 184-04
Bill Mosley

Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - The nation's largest airlines experienced better on-time performance in August than in July this year, although August'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 78.3 percent in August. This represented an improvement over July's 75.9 percent on-time rate, but was still below August 2003's rate of 79.0 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 7.28 percent of their August flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 8.06 percent in July; 6.31 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.97 percent in July; 5.18 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.96 percent in July; 1.06 percent by extreme weather, compared to 1.08 percent in July; and 0.06 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.07 percent in July. 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.

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 August, the carriers canceled 1.6 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, the same percentage as in both August 2003 and July 2004.

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.81 reports per 1,000 passengers in August, higher than August 2003's 4.61 rate but an improvement over July 2004's 4.99.

Complaints About Airline Service

In August, the department received 791 complaints from consumers about airline service, 52.3 percent more than the total of 518 received in August 2003 and 27.6 percent more than the 620 filed in July 2004.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in August against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The department received a total of 50 disability-related complaints in August, 25 percent more than the 40 received in August 2003 but 18 percent fewer than the total of 61 filed in July 2004.

Complaints About Discrimination

In August, the department received eight complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – identical to the total received in August 2003 and 63.6 percent fewer than the total of 22 received in July 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 August 2004
Key On-Time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

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


78.3 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 95.5 percent

2. SkyWest Airlines – 86.2 percent

3. Continental Airlines – 81.3 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. American Airlines – 73.5 percent

2. American Eagle Airlines – 74.0 percent

3. America West Airlines – 74.9 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

1. ExpressJet Airlines flight 3431 from Washington Dulles to Newark, NJ – late 93.55 percent of the time

2. Southwest Airlines flight 1165 from Chicago Midway to Albuquerque, NM – late 92.59 percent of the time

3. Comair flight 5044 from Orlando, FL to Raleigh/Durham, NC – late 90.32 percent of the time

4. ExpressJet Airlines flight 2383 from Burlington, VT to Newark, NJ – late 88.89 percent of the time

5. Delta Air Lines flight 1178 from New York JFK to Seattle – late 87.10 percent of the time

5. Southwest flight 2220 from Phoenix to Los Angeles – late 87.10 percent of the time

5. Southwest flight 1059 from Salt Lake City to Seattle – late 87.10 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. American Eagle Airlines – 3.5 percent

2. Atlantic Coast Airlines – 3.3 percent

3. US Airways – 2.4 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.4 percent

2. Continental Airlines – 0.6 percent

3. JetBlue Airways – 0.6 percent