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Flight Delays in September Decrease From Previous Month

Flight Delays in September Decrease From Previous Month

DOT 201-04
Bill Mosley
202-366-4570

Thursday, November 4, 2004 - The nation's largest airlines experienced better on-time performance in September than in August this year, although September'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 83.9 percent in September. This represented an improvement over August's 78.3 percent on-time rate, but was still below September 2003's rate of 85.6 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, airline bumping, 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 5.01 percent of their September flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 7.28 percent in August; 3.50 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.31 percent in August; 3.71 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.18 percent in August; 0.55 percent by extreme weather, compared to 1.06 percent in August; and 0.07 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.06 percent in August. 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 show 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 September, 2.91 percent of flights were delayed by weather, down 11.22 percent from September 2003, when 3.64 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and down 54 percent from August when 5.95 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 http://www.bts.gov.

Flight Cancellations

The consumer report also includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In September, the carriers canceled 3.1 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, up from both the cancellation rates of 1.4 percent in September 2003 and 1.6 percent in August 2004.

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.81 reports per 1,000 passengers in September, higher than September 2003's 3.17 rate but an improvement over August 2004's 4.81. For the first nine months of this year, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.58 per 1,000 passengers, up from the 4.20 rate recorded in January-September 2003.

Bumping

The report also includes airline filings of their involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, for the third quarter of 2004. Of the 19 U.S. carriers who report on-time performance and mishandled baggage data, 17 are also required to report their bumping records to DOT. These 17 carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.62 per 10,000 passengers for the quarter, down from the 0.70 rate for the third quarter of 2003. For the first nine months of this year, the carriers had a bumping rate of 0.85 per 10,000 passengers, slightly below the 0.89 rate for January-September 2003.

Complaints About Airline Service

In September, the Department received 592 complaints from consumers about airline service, 29.0 percent more than the total of 459 received in September 2003 but 25.2 percent fewer than the total of 791 recorded in August 2004. For the first nine months of this year, the Department received 5,558 complaints, 17.4 percent more than the total of 4,736 received during January-September last year.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in September against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 31 disability-related complaints in September, 24.4 percent less than the 41 received in September 2003 and 38.0 percent fewer than the total of 50 filed in August 2004. For the first nine months of this year, the Department received 415 disability-related complaints, an increase of 56.0 percent over the 266 received during January-September 2003.

Complaints About Discrimination

In September, the Department received nine 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 September 2003 and one more than the total of eight received in August 2004. For the first nine months of this year, the Department received 93 discrimination complaints, up 32.9 percent from the total of 70 received during January-September 2003.

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. SW, Washington, DC 20590; by e-mail at airconsumer@ost.dot.gov; 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.

Air Travel Consumer Report September 2004
Key On-Time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

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

Overall

83.9 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 96.7 percent

2. SkyWest Airlines – 88.8 percent

3. ATA Airlines – 88.6 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. AirTran Airways – 76.6 percent

2. Delta Air Lines – 77.0 percent

3. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 77.8 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

1. Delta Air Lines flight 1447 from Atlanta to Pensacola, FL – late 84.62 percent of the time

2. AirTran Airways flight 1727 from Atlanta to Pensacola, FL – late 80.95 percent of the time

3. Atlantic Coast Airlines flight 1914 from Newburgh, NY to Washington Dulles – late 80.00 percent of the time

3. Delta Air Lines flight 601 from Atlanta to Pensacola, FL – late 80.00 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. AirTran Airways – 6.1 percent

2. JetBlue Airways – 5.7 percent

3. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 5.6 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.3 percent

2. ExpressJet Airlines – 1.6 percent

3. Northwest Airlines – 1.6 percent