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Airline On-Time Performance in February Better Than Last Year, Slips from January

Airline On-Time Performance in February Better Than Last Year, Slips from January


DOT 46-08
Bill Mosley

Thursday, April 3, 2008 - The nation’s largest airlines’ rate of on-time flights this past February was lower than in January but higher than in the same month last year while February flights were cancelled at a higher rate than in January 2008 but at a lower rate than in February 2007, 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 recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 68.6 percent in February, up from February 2007’s 67.3 percent but below January 2008’s 72.4 percent. 

The monthly report also includes data on the 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 reports required to be filed by U.S. carriers of incidents involving pets traveling by air.

Causes of Flight Delays

In February, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 9.36 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 8.42 percent in January; 9.74 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 8.41 percent in January; 7.11 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.79 percent in January; 1.19 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.88 percent in January; and 0.05 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.07 percent in January.  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 late flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In February, 46.92 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up 22.83 percent from February 2007, when 38.20 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and up 7.71 percent from January when 43.56 percent of late 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 delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 6.39 reports per 1,000 passengers in February, an improvement over both February 2007’s rate of 8.23 and January 2008’s 7.37 rate.

Incidents Involving Pets

In February, carriers reported one incident involving pets while traveling by air, down from four incidents in January.  The February incident involved an injured pet.

Complaints About Airline Service

In February, the department received 936 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 13.3 percent from the 826 complaints filed in February 2007 but down 20.3 percent from the total of 1,174 received in January 2008.  

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in February against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.  The Department received a total of 35 disability-related complaints in February, 75.0 percent above the 20 filed in February 2007 but 18.6 percent fewer than the 43 complaints received in January 2008.

Complaints About Discrimination

In February, the Department received nine complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – up from the total of six received in February 2007 but down from the 11 complaints filed in January 2008. 
Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590; by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511; or on the web at

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 February 2008
Key On-Time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

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


68.6 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Aloha Airlines – 95.6 percent
  2. Hawaiian Airlines – 93.1 percent
  3. Delta Air Lines – 77.2 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates 

  1. American Eagle Airlines – 60.6 percent
  2. Comair – 61.4 percent
  3. American Airlines – 61.7 percent 

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

  1. JetBlue Airways flight 515 from Newark, NJ to Fort Lauderdale, FL – late 100 percent of the time
  2. American Airlines flight 1763 from Chicago O’Hare to Orange County, CA – late 96.00 percent of the time
  3. American Eagle Airlines flight 4017 from Birmingham, AL to Chicago O’Hare – late 96.00 percent of the time
  4. Mesa Airlines flight 7088 from Chicago O’Hare to Green Bay, WI – late 93.75 percent of the time
  5. American Eagle Airlines flight 4009 from Chicago O’Hare to Birmingham, AL – late 92.00 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Mesa Airlines – 10.6 percent
  2. American Eagle Airlines – 7.5 percent
  3. Comair – 6.3 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.3 percent
  2. Aloha Airlines – 0.5 percent
  3. Frontier Airlines – 0.6 percent