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November 2015 Airline On-Time Performance Up From Previous Year, Down from October 2015

Press Release Number: 
DOT 04-16
Friday, January 15, 2016
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

WASHINGTON – The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 83.7 percent in November 2015, up from the 80.6 percent on-time rate in November 2014, but down from the 87.0 percent mark in October 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report released today.

In addition, in November, airlines reported five tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and one tarmac delay of more than four hours on an international flight.  Three of the domestic tarmac delays were related to an equipment failure at New York City area airports on November 14.  All reported extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.

The consumer report also includes data on cancellations, chronically delayed flights, and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by the reporting carriers.  In addition, the consumer report contains aviation service complaints filed with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division by consumers regarding a range of issues such as flight problems, baggage, reservation and ticketing, refunds, consumer service, disability, and discrimination.  The consumer report also includes statistics on mishandled baggage reports filed by consumers with the reporting carriers and reports of incidents involving the loss, death, or injury of animals traveling by air filed by U.S. carriers.


The reporting carriers canceled 1.0 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in November 2015, up from both the 0.9 percent cancellation rate posted in November 2014 and the 0.5 percent rate in October 2015.

Chronically Delayed Flights

At the end of November, there were no regularly scheduled flight that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months or more.  A list of flights that were chronically delayed for a single month is available from BTS.

Causes of Flight Delays

In November, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported total delays of 16.28 percent – 4.84 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 4.07 percent in October; 5.18 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 4.00 percent in October; 4.60 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.03 percent in October; 0.42 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.24 percent in October; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.02 percent in October.  In addition, 0.98 percent of flights were canceled and 0.21 percent were diverted.

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.

BTS uses the data collected from airlines to determine the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, which includes those reported in the categories of extreme weather, late-arriving aircraft, and National Aviation System delays.  In November, 30.45 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from 28.72 percent in November 2014 and from 25.09 percent in October 2015.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available from BTS.

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.58 reports per 1,000 passengers in November, down from November 2014’s rate of 2.87, but up from October 2015’s rate of 2.49.

Incidents Involving Animals

In November, carriers reported six incidents involving the loss, injury, or death of animals while traveling by air, up from the three reports filed in October 2015.  November’s incidents involved the deaths of four animals and injuries to two other animals.

Complaints About Airline Service

In November, the Department received 1,308 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 43.4 percent from the total of 912 filed in November 2014, but down 14.3 percent from the 1,527 received in October 2015.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in November against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.  The Department received a total of 96 disability-related complaints in November, up from the 45 complaints received in November 2014, but down from the 99 complaints received in October 2015.

Complaints About Discrimination

In November, the Department received six complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin, or sex – up from both the total of two recorded in November 2014 and the five recorded in October 2015.

Consumers may file air travel service complaints on the web at or by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511.  They may also mail a complaint to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590.

Consumers who want on-time performance data for specific flights should call their airline’s reservation number or their travel agent.  This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents.  The information is also available on the appropriate carrier’s website.

The Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOT’s website at


January 2016

Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 13 Reporting Carriers and Tarmac Data Filed by All Carriers


     83.7 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 93.9 percent
  2. Delta Air Lines – 89.5 percent
  3. Alaska Airlines – 85.5 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates 

  1. Frontier Airlines – 74.0 percent
  2. Spirit Airlines – 75.3 percent
  3. ExpressJet Airlines – 80.8 percent

Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours

  1. Alaska Airlines flight 154 from Kotzebue, Alaska to Anchorage, Alaska, 11/8/15 – delayed on tarmac 260 minutes
  2. Delta Air Lines flight 2812 from New York JFK to Tampa, 11/14/15 – delayed on tarmac 193 minutes
  3. Mesa Airlines flight 3979 from Oklahoma City to Houston Bush, 11/28/15 – delayed on tarmac 189 minutes
  4. United Airlines flight 1138 from Newark, N.J. to Fort Myers, Fla., 11/14/15 – delayed on tarmac 182 minutes
  5. United Airlines flight 1460 from Newark, N.J. to Las Vegas, 11/14/15 – delayed on tarmac 181 minutes

International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours

  1. Qatar Airways flight 725 from Doha, Qatar to Chicago O’Hare, 11/21/15 – delayed 379 minutes on the tarmac in Detroit after being diverted

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights  

  1. Envoy Air – 4.5 percent
  2. ExpressJet Airlines – 1.8 percent
  3. SkyWest Airlines – 1.5 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Delta Air Lines – 0.0 percent*
  2. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.1 percent
  3. Alaska Airlines – 0.3 percent

* Delta Air Lines canceled 14 flights in November.