US Airlines Improve On-time and Cancellation Rates

February 14, 2017

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The US Department of Transportation has released its air travel report for 2016, showing the lowest rate of flight cancellations in 22 years.

DOT’s 2016 Air Travel Consumer Report showed a 1.17 percent cancellation rate for US domestic flights, down from 1.5 percent in 2015. The previous low was 1.24 percent reported in 2002.

US airlines also reduced the number of bags lost or ‘mishandled’ to 2.7 per 1,000 passengers, an improvement on 2015’s 3.13 percent.

The number of passengers ‘bumped’ from flights also dropped, with DOT reporting 0.62 per 10,000 passengers denied boarding. That rate compares with 0.73 in 2015 and the previous all time low of 0.72 in 2002.

On time performance also improved in 2016 with 81.4 percent of flights arriving on time, up from 79.9 percent in 2015. The industry considers a flight on time if it arrives within 15 minutes of its scheduled arrival time.

Hawaiian Airlines was the most punctual US airline with an 85.1 percent on time arrival rate. Delta was second with 81.4 percent and American came in third on 79.1 percent.

The bottom three for on time arrivals were SkyWest with 69.8 percent, Virgin America on 68.3 percent, with Frontier the worst for on time performance at 62.4 percent.

Frontier was again the lowest performing US airline in terms of flight cancellations. The low cost carrier cancelled 6.4 percent of its flights in 2016, well behind SkyWest on 3.7 percent and ExpressJet’s 3.0 percent.

The carrier with the fewest cancellations was Hawaiian Airlines with just 0.1 percent of flights not operating. Delta was a close second on 0.2 percent, with American a little way behind, cancelling 0.7 percent of its flights.

In what was a much better year for airlines overall, DOT received 17,904 complaints, an 11.3 percent drop from the 20,175 received in 2015.