US Airlines Improved On-Time, Bump Rates In 2017

February 8, 2018

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US airlines improved their on-time performance last year and reduced their bumping rates to the lowest level since 1995, according to US Department of Transportation figures.

Bumping, where airlines overbook flights and passengers are refused boarding, was the lowest since the DOT started keeping records. The rate of 0.34 per 10,000 passengers was down from 0.62 in 2016.

The year finished on a particularly strong note with a bumping rate of just 0.18 per 10,000 passengers recorded for the fourth quarter, down from 0.55 for 4Q16.

Carriers improved their on-time performance in December with an on-time arrival rate of 80.3 percent, up from the 75.6 percent in December 2016. For the full year, however, on-time arrivals dropped to 80.2 percent from 81.4 percent in 2016.

United was the most punctual airline in 2017 with 84.6 percent of its flights on time. Delta was second on 83.5 percent and Alaska Airlines third on 83.4 percent.

At the other end of the scale, JetBlue had the lowest arrival rate of reporting airlines with 74.1 percent on time. Frontier was second poorest on 75.8 percent and ExpressJet third with 76.4 percent of flights on time.

December also saw fewer cancellations, 1.2 percent of scheduled domestic flights, an improvement from the previous year period’s 1.6 percent. For the full year, airlines cancelled more flights overall, 1.5 percent, up from 1.2 percent in 2016.

United again topped the list, with the lowest rate of cancelled flights 0.2 percent, JetBlue equalled that rate, 0.2 percent, and Virgin America came in only slightly worse with 0.3 percent of its flights cancelled.

The poorest airlines for cancellations were Delta Air Lines with 2.9 percent of its scheduled flights cancelled, ExpressJet with 1.7 percent and SkyWest on 1.5 percent.