Fewer lengthy tarmac delays and rising on-time airline performance in October
The US Department of Transportation received one quarter fewer complaints month-on-month in October.
United States airlines reported zero tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights in October, a significant improvement compared with eight such delays the month prior, according to the latest statistics.
The US Department of Transportation released its Air Travel Consumer Report October 2017 this week.
Reporting carriers’ October on-time arrival rate was 84.8%, slightly better than September’s 83.6% on-time arrival rate and only marginally less than the 85.5% rate recorded one year earlier in October 2016.
There were no reported tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic services in October, compared to eight tarmac delays in September 2017. However, airlines did report two tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to just the one extensive tarmac delay reported the previous month.
In October, United States airlines canceled 0.7% of scheduled domestic flights, less than in August 2017 (2.2%), substantially fewer than September’s rate (3.3%), and an improvement over the same period last year (1.0%).
Mishandled baggage was higher in October (2.04 reports per 1,000 passengers) than the previous month’s rate (1.99 reports per 1,000 passengers) but lower than the year-on-year rate (2.06 reports per 1,000 passengers).
There were slightly fewer flights delayed in October (15.24%) than September (16.36%). Delays were mostly caused by late-arriving aircraft (5.15%) and aviation system delays (4.73%) polarizing month-on-month results. Other delaying factors included maintenance or crew issues (4.23%) and extreme weather events (0.24%).
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.
Additionally, the US Department of Transport received 1,188 airline service complaints from consumers, down 24.6% from the 1,576 received in September, and 6.5% less than the 1,270 filed a year earlier in October 2016.
Individual airline on-time performance rates
Hawaiian Airlines posted the highest arrival rates of any US airline (89.5%) in October, followed by Delta Air Lines (89.4%) and Spirit Airlines (87.1%). At the other end of the spectrum, the airlines with the lowest arrival rates for October were Virgin America (73.3%), JetBlue Airways (79.6%) and ExpressJet Airlines (80.6%).
Delta Air Lines recorded the lowest rate of canceled flights during October (0.0%), followed closely by United Airlines (0.3%) and Hawaiian Airlines (0.4%). In contrast, budget carrier JetBlue Airways had the highest proportion of flight cancellations (2.1%), followed by Virgin America (1.6%) and SkyWest Airlines (1.5%).
United’s MileagePlus was just voted Best Overall Frequent Flyer Program 14 years in a row by Global Traveler.
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.
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