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Flight Delays Increase in November 2004

Flight Delays Increase in November 2004

DOT 02-05
Bill Mosley

Wednesday, January 5, 2005 - The nation's largest airlines experienced a higher rate of flight delays in November 2004 than October 2004, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to information filed with the epartment's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 79.1 percent in November, down from both November 2003's rate of 80.2 percent and October 2004's 81.0 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 7.55 percent of their November flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 7.09 percent in October 2004; 5.80 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 5.26 percent in October; 5.03 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.51 percent in October; 1.01 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.84 percent in October; and 0.07 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.05 percent in October. 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 November, 5.13 percent of flights were delayed by weather, up 3.81 percent from November 2003, when 5.49 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and up 10.13 percent from October when 4.47 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 November, the carriers canceled 1.26 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, up slightly from the 1.1 percent in October 2004 but well below the 3.1 percent rate in September 2004.

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.53 reports per 1,000 passengers in November, higher than both November 2003's 3.54 percent and October 2004's 4.02 percent.

Complaints About Airline Service

In November, the Department received 431 complaints from consumers about airline service, 13.4 percent more than the total of 380 received in November 2003 but 10.2 percent fewer than the 480 recorded in October 2004.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in November against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 24 disability-related complaints in November, 48 percent below the total of 46 received in November 2003 and 38 percent less than the 39 recorded in October 2004.

Complaints About Discrimination

In November, the Department received five complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – compared to four in November 2003 and seven in October 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. SW, 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 November 2004
Key On-Time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

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


79.1 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 93.43 percent

2. JetBlue Airways – 87.5 percent

3. Northwest Airlines – 84.2 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 68.1 percent

2. Alaska Airlines – 70.1 percent

3. ExpressJet Airlines – 74.3 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flight

Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 4710 from Flint, MI to Atlanta, GA – late 96.67 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. American Eagle Airlines – 3.7 percent

2. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 3.1 percent

3. Skywest Airlines – 2.3 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. JetBlue Airways – 0.0 percent

2. ATA Airlines – 0.1 percent

3. Continental Airlines – 0.1 percent