US Airlines Post Improved On-Time Performance

January 12, 2018

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US airlines had a good month in November for on-time performance and cancellations, with the on-time arrival rate the highest since the downturn following the global financial crisis in 2009.

The Department of Transportation reported the overall on-time arrival rate of 88.3 percent was up from November 2016’s 86.5 percent and came close to the highest rate ever reported, November 2009’s 88.6 percent.

Flight cancellations were equal lowest on record, with just 0.3 percent of flights cancelled during the month, matching September and November 2016, and down from the 0.7 percent rate reported for October 2017.

The number of mishandled bags also dropped, down to 1.83 per 1,000 passengers from 2.02 in the same month the previous year.

Breaking out the best and worst airlines, DOT reported Delta Air Lines as the top performing US carrier for on-time arrivals with a 93.7 percent success rate. Spirit came second with 89.8 percent, just beating Hawaiian Airlines on 89.3 percent.

At the other end of the chart of the 12 airlines that report on-time performance to DOT, Virgin America performed poorest with only 77.5 percent of flights on-time, stablemate Alaska Airlines was second bottom on 83.2 percent, and SkyWest came third with 85.4 percent of its flights on time.

The Department of Transportation defines a flight as on time if it arrives within 15 minutes of its scheduled gate arrival time.

Turning to cancellations, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines were the poorest performers with 1.3 percent and 0.9 percent of their flights cancelled respectively. SkyWest Airlines again was third worst for cancellations with 0.7 percent.

The three best carriers for lack of cancellations were Delta with no cancellations in November, United cancelled 18 flights and American cancelled 0.1 percent of its flights during the month.