You are here

Airlines On-Time Performance Drops in May

Airlines On-Time Performance Drops in May


DOT 76-06
Bill Mosley

Thursday, July 6, 2006 - The nation's largest airlines recorded a lower rate of on-time flights this past May than in either May 2005 or April 2006, 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 (RITA), the 20 carriers reporting on-time performance in May recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 78.3 percent for the month, down from both May 2005's 83.7 percent on-time record and April 2006's 78.4 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 and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division. This report also includes information 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 May, the carriers canceled 1.2 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, higher than both the 0.9 percent cancellation rate of May 2005 and the 1.1 percent rate recorded in April 2006.

Causes of Flight Delays

The carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 7.07 percent of their May flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.99 percent in April 2006; 6.85 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.83 percent in April; 5.57 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.69 percent in April; 0.82 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.70 in April; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.08 April. 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 May, 47.62 percent of flights were delayed by weather, up 9.72 percent from May 2005, when 43.40 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and up 12.18 percent from April when 42.45 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

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.94 reports per 1,000 passengers in May, down from both May 2005's 5.21 rate and April 2006's 5.27 mark.

Incidents Involving Pets

In May, carriers reported two incidents involving pets while traveling by air, compared to six reports in April. Both May incidents involved the death of a pet. Carriers first began reporting pet incidents in May 2005.

Complaints About Airline Service

In May, the Department received 623 complaints from consumers about airline service, up 1.6 percent from the 613 complaints received in May 2005 and 11.6 percent fewer than the 705 filed in April 2006.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in May against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 38 disability-related complaints in May, 25.5 percent fewer than the 51 received in May 2005 but 5.6 percent more than the 36 filed in April 2006.

Complaints About Discrimination

In May, the Department received 12 complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – compared to the totals of 13 complaints filed in May 2005 and eight in April 2006.

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 May 2006
Key On-Time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 20 Reporting Carriers


78.3 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 95.0 percent

2. Aloha Airlines – 88.7 percent

3. Frontier Airlines – 84.0 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. ATA Airlines – 66.1 percent

2. American Eagle Airlines – 68.4 percent

3. ExpressJet Airlines – 73.1 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

1. ExpressJet Airlines flight 2030 from Newark, NJ to Omaha, NE – late 95.00 percent of the time

2. American Eagle Airlines flight 4659 from Newark, NJ to Raleigh/Durham, NC – late 90.32 percent of the time

3. ExpressJet Airlines flight 3023 from Charlotte, NC to Newark, NJ – late 88.89 percent of the time

4. Continental Airlines flight 1155 from Newark, NJ to Atlanta – late 88.46 percent of the time

4. ExpressJet Airlines flight 2043 from Grand Rapids, MI to Newark, NJ – late 88.46 percent of the time

4. ExpressJet Airlines flight 2055 from Newark, NJ to Columbia, SC – late 88.46 percent of the time

4. ExpressJet Airlines flight 2286 from Newark, NJ to Dayton, OH – late 88.46 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. American Eagle Airlines – 3.5 percent

2. Mesa Airlines – 2.2 percent

3. ExpressJet Airlines – 1.9 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Frontier Airlines – 0.1 percent

2. JetBlue Airways – 0.2 percent

3. Continental Airlines – 0.3 percent