Airlines bumping fewer passengers and on-time performance improves in September
Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma kept cancellations high but mishandled baggage rates continued to decline.
United States airlines’ on-time performance enjoyed significant month-on-month gains in September, with fewer delays and airline bumping at its lowest quarterly rate since 1995, according to the latest statistics.
The US Department of Transportation released its Air Travel Consumer Report September 2017 this week.
Reporting carriers’ September on-time arrival rate was 83.6%, a huge improvement on August’s 77.1% on-time arrival rate and only a fraction lower than the 85.5% rate recorded 12 months earlier in September 2016.
For the third quarter of 2017, the involuntary denied boarding rate – bumping – was just 0.15 per 10,000 passengers. This was the lowest reported quarterly rate in 22 years, down from both the rate of 0.69 for the third quarter of 2016 and the previous lowest quarterly rate of 0.44 posted in the second quarter of 2017.
In September, United States airlines canceled 3.3% of scheduled domestic flights, three times more than in July 2017 (1.1%), up on August’s rate (2.2%), and significantly more than the same period last year (0.3%).
Mishandled baggage fell in September (1.99 reports per 1,000 passengers) compared to both the previous month’s rate (2.45 reports per 1,000 passengers) and the year-on-year rate (2.23 reports per 1,000 passengers).
There were fewer flights delayed in September (16.36%) than August (22.92%). Delays were mostly caused by late-arriving aircraft (4.40%) and aviation system delays (4.23%), much improved month-on-month. Others factors causing delays included maintenance or crew issues (3.88%) and extreme weather events (0.32%).
There were eight reported tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic services in September, compared to nine tarmac delays in August 2017. Airlines also reported one tarmac delay of more than four hours on international flights, compared to two extensive tarmac delays reported the previous month.
Additionally, the US Department of Transport received 1,576 airline service complaints from consumers, down 17.4% from the 1,907 received in August, and 21.0% more than the 1,302 filed a year earlier in September 2016.
Individual airline on-time performance rates
Hawaiian Airlines posted the highest arrival rates of any US airline (94.0%) in September, followed by Delta Air Lines (88.7%) and Alaska Airlines (86.4%). At the other end of the spectrum, the airlines with the lowest arrival rates for September were JetBlue Airways (70.1%), Spirit Airlines (75.1%) and Virgin America (77.4%).
Hawaiian Airlines recorded the lowest rate of canceled flights during September (0.4%), followed closely by SkyWest Airlines (0.6%) and Alaska Airlines (0.7%). In contrast, budget carrier Spirit Airlines had the highest proportion of flight cancellations (10.4%), followed by JetBlue Airways (9.3%) and American Airlines (4.6%).
In October the US government imposed stricter security measures for flights entering the US. These include enhanced passenger screening; heightened screening of electronic devices; increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; expanded canine screening, and additional pre-clearance locations.