WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its May 2017 Air Travel Consumer Report, compiling air carrier data for the month of March 2017 and the first quarter of 2017. For the first quarter of 2017, the 12 U.S. carriers who report on-time performance and mishandled baggage data posted an involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, rate of 0.62 per 10,000 passengers, equal to the 0.62 rate reported for the first quarter of 2016. See the May Air Travel Consumer Report for denied boarding numbers by airline.
The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 79.9 percent in March 2017, down from both the 81.5 percent on-time rate in March 2016 and the 82.6 percent mark in February 2017.
The reporting carriers canceled 1.8 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in March 2017, up from both the 1.0 percent cancellation rate posted in March 2016 and the 1.5 percent rate in February 2017.
The consumer report also includes data on tarmac delays, chronically delayed flights, and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by the reporting carriers. In addition, the consumer report contains a record of aviation service complaints filed with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division by consumers regarding a range of issues including flight problems, baggage, reservation and ticketing, refunds, customer service, disability access, and discrimination. The report also includes statistics on mishandled baggage reports filed by consumers with the reporting carriers, and information about the total number of animals that died, were injured, or were lost during air transport in March 2017, as filed by the air carriers with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.
The Department has launched an airline passenger microsite to make it easy for travelers to understand their rights. The site can be viewed here: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/flights-and-rights.
In March, airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights.
Chronically Delayed Flights
At the end of March, there were 10 flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months. There were no additional chronically delayed flights for three consecutive months or more. A list of flights that were chronically delayed for a single month is available from BTS.
Causes of Flight Delays
In March, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 20.08 percent of their flights were delayed – 6.06 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 5.45 percent in February; 6.78 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 5.50 percent in February; 4.88 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.22 percent in February; 0.40 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.46 percent in February; and 0.02 percent for security reasons, equal to 0.02 percent in February. In addition, 1.75 percent of flights were canceled and 0.19 percent were diverted.
Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category. This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved. Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category.
BTS uses the data collected from airlines to determine the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, which includes those reported in the categories of extreme weather, late-arriving aircraft, and National Aviation System delays. In March, 32.05 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, down from 34.60 percent in March 2016 and from 34.29 percent in February 2017.
Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available from BTS.
The U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.24 reports per 1,000 passengers in March, down from March 2016’s rate of 2.49, but up from February 2017’s rate of 2.16. For the first quarter of this year, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.59 reports per 1,000 passengers, an improvement over the 2.80 rate for the first quarter of 2016.
Incidents Involving Animals
In March, carriers reported two incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from the three reports filed in March 2016 and equal to the two reports filed in February 2017. March’s incidents involved the deaths of two animals.
Complaints About Airline Service
In March, the U.S. Department of Transportation received 1,132 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 20.7 percent from the total of 1,427 filed in March 2016, but up 19.2 percent from the 950 received in February 2017. For the first quarter of this year, the Department received 3,731 complaints, down 19.3 percent from the 4,626 filed during the first quarter of 2016.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in March against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 56 disability-related complaints in March, down from the 77 complaints received in March 2016, but up from the 55 complaints received in February 2017. For the first quarter of this year, the Department received 187 disability-related complaints, down from the total of 224 filed during the first quarter of 2016. All complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability are investigated.
Complaints About Discrimination
In March, the Department received four complaints alleging discrimination – two complaints regarding race, one complaint regarding national origin, and one complaint categorized as “other.” This is a decrease from the total of six recorded in March 2016 and the five recorded in February 2017. For the first quarter of this year, the Department received 20 discrimination complaints – 12 complaints regarding race, two complaints regarding ancestry/ethnicity, one complaint regarding national origin, one complaint regarding color, two complaints regarding religion, one complaint regarding sex, and one complaint categorized as “other.” This is down from the total of 21 filed during the first quarter of 2016. All complaints alleging discrimination are investigated to determine if there has been a violation(s) of the passenger’s civil rights.
Consumers may file air travel consumer or civil rights complaints on the web at http://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm or by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511. They may also mail a complaint to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590.
Consumers who want on-time performance data for specific flights should call their airline’s reservation number or their travel agent. This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents. The information is also available on the appropriate carrier’s website.
The Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOT’s website at http://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-consumer-reports.
AIR TRAVEL CONSUMER REPORT
KEY MARCH 2017 ON-TIME PERFORMANCE AND FLIGHT CANCELLATION STATISTICS
Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 12 Reporting Carriers and Tarmac Data Filed by All Carriers
79.9 percent on-time arrivals
Highest On-Time Arrival Rates
- Delta Air Lines – 86.9 percent
- Hawaiian Airlines – 84.7 percent
- United Airlines – 81.0 percent
Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates
- Virgin America – 65.5 percent
- JetBlue Airways – 70.8 percent
- Spirit Airlines – 75.0 percent
Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours
* There were no domestic flights in March with tarmac delays exceeding three hours.
International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours
* There were no international flights in March with tarmac delays exceeding four hours.
Highest Rates of Canceled Flights
- JetBlue Airways – 3.9 percent
- ExpressJet Airlines – 3.6 percent
- Spirit Airlines – 2.5 percent
Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights
- Hawaiian Airlines – 0.3 percent
- Delta Air Lines – 0.6 percent
- Alaska Airlines – 0.6 percent