Thursday, November 3, 2005 — The on-time performance of the nation's largest airlines improved in September compared to August, although the carriers had a lower percentage of on-time flights than in September 2004, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration, the 20 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 82.7 percent in September, an improvement over August 2005's 75.2 percent but below September 2004's 83.9 percent.
The monthly report also includes data on flight cancellations and causes of flight delays, as well as information on 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. The report also includes reports required to be filed by U.S. carriers of incidents involving pets traveling by air.
The consumer report includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In September, the carriers canceled 2.0 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, fewer than both September 2004's 3.1 percent and August 2005's 2.1 percent.
The carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 5.64 percent of their September flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 7.72 percent in August 2005; 4.30 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.05 percent in August; 4.67 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.42 percent in August; 0.55 percent by extreme weather, compared to 1.15 percent in August; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.07 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.
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, 3.21 percent of flights were delayed by weather, up 10.31 percent from September 2004, when 2.91 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and down 45.96 percent from August when 5.94 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 .
The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.49 reports per 1,000 passengers in September, higher than September 2004's 3.81 rate but down from August 2005's 6.31 mark. For the first nine months of this year, the carriers reported a mishandled baggage rate of 6.09 per 1,000 passengers, up from the 4.58 rate for January-September 2004.
The report also includes airline reports of involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, for the third quarter of 2005. Of the 20 U.S. carriers who report on-time performance and mishandled baggage data, 19 are also required to report their bumping records to DOT. These 19 carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.73 per 10,000 passengers for the quarter, up from the 0.62 rate for the third quarter of 2004. For the first nine months of this year, the carriers had a bumping rate of 0.90 per 10,000 passengers, up from the 0.85 rate for January-September 2004.
In September, carriers reported one incident involving pets while traveling by air, down from the nine reported in August. The September incident involved the death of a pet. Carriers first began reporting pet incidents in May 2005.
In September, the Department received 670 complaints from consumers about airline service, up 13.4 percent from the total of 591 received in September 2004 but 18.5 percent fewer than the 822 filed in August 2005. For the first nine months of this year, the Department received 6,908 complaints about airline service, up 24.2 percent from the total of 5,563 received during January-September 2004.
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 28 disability-related complaints in September, down 12.5 percent from the 32 complaints received in September 2004 and fewer than half the 59 complaints received in August 2005. For the first nine months of this year, the Department received 402 disability-related complaints, down 3.8 percent from the 418 complaints filed during January-September 2004.
In September, the Department received six complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability - such as race, religion, national origin or sex - down from both the eight complaints received in September 2004 and the 12 received in August 2005. For the first nine months of this year, the Department received 100 discrimination complaints, 8.7 percent above the total of 92 filed during January-September 2004.
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. SW , Washington , DC 20590 ; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; 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 20 Reporting Carriers
82.7 percent on-time arrivals