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Airline On-Time Performance Improves in July

Airline On-Time Performance Improves in July


DOT 127-08
Bill Mosley

Wednesday, September 3, 2008 - Flights operated by the nations largest airlines arrived on time at a higher rate this past July than in both the previous month and July 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 DOTs Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 75.7 percent in July, higher than both July 2007s 69.8 percent and June 2008s 70.8 percent.

The monthly report also includes data on flight cancellations and 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 DOTs Aviation Consumer Protection Division. This report also includes reports of incidents involving pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.


The consumer report includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers.  In July, the carriers canceled 1.7 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, lower than both the 2.1 percent cancellation rate of July 2007 and the 1.8 percent rate posted in June 2008.

Causes of Flight Delays

In July, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 7.78 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 10.16 percent in June; 7.17 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 8.86 percent in June; 6.30 percent by factors within the airlines control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.78 percent in June; 1.01 percent by extreme weather, compared to 1.14 percent in June; and 0.05 percent for security reasons, the same percentage as June. 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 DOTs 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 shows 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 July, 44.37 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up 2.83 percent from July 2007, when 43.15 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and down 6.02 percent from June when 47.21 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 4.86 reports per 1,000 passengers in July, an improvement over both July 2007s rate of 7.96 and June 2008s 5.15 rate.

Incidents Involving Pets

In July, carriers reported six incidents involving pets while traveling by air, up from five incidents in June. The July incidents involved four deaths, one injury and one lost pet.

Complaints About Airline Service

In July, the department received 1,093 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 36.4 percent from the 1,720 complaints filed in July 2007 but 24.1 percent more than the total of 881 received in June 2008.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in July against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 65 disability-related complaints in July, up 38.3 percent from the 47 filed in July 2007 and more than double the 27 complaints received in June 2008.

Complaints About Discrimination

In July, the Department received nine complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – down from the total of 15 complaints received in July 2007 but up from the total of eight received in June 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 airlines reservation number or their travel agent. This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents.

The Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOTs World Wide Web site at It is available in pdf and Microsoft Word format.

Air Travel Consumer Report July 2008
Key On-Time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

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


75.7 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Pinnacle Airlines – 85.6 percent

2. Hawaiian Airlines – 83.6 percent

3. Southwest Airlines – 83.1 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Comair – 63.3 percent

2. JetBlue Airways – 64.6 percent

3. United Airlines – 68.2 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

1. Comair flight 5292 from Minneapolis/St. Paul to New York JFK – late 100 percent of the time

1. Comair flight 5614 from Charlotte, NC to New York JFK – late 100 percent of the time

1. Comair flight 5491 from Albany, NY to New York JFK – late 100 percent of the time

1. Comair flight 5739 from New York JFK to Pittsburgh – late 100 percent of the time

5. Comair flight 5440 from Washington Dulles to New York JFK – late 96.77 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Comair – 4.5 percent

2. United Airlines – 3.2 percent

3. JetBlue Airways – 3.2 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Frontier Airlines – 0.2 percent

2. Northwest Airlines – 0.6 percent

3. Southwest Airlines – 0.6 percent