Airline Bumping Rate Lowest in Decades
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today released its August 2017 Air Travel Consumer Report, compiling air carrier data for the month of June 2017, second quarter of 2017, and first half of 2017. For the first six months of this year, the 12 U.S. carriers who report involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, data posted a bumping rate of 0.52 per 10,000 passengers, the lowest January through June rate based on historical data dating back to 1995 and down from the rate of 0.62 posted during the first six months of 2016. For the second quarter of 2017, the carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.44 per 10,000 passengers, the lowest quarterly rate based on historical data dating back to 1995 and down from the rate of 0.62 posted in both the second quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017.
Oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly. The previous lowest rate for the January through June period was 0.62 in 2016. The previous lowest quarterly rate was 0.50 from July through September 2002.
The U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.65 reports per 1,000 passengers in June, an improvement over June 2016’s rate of 2.82, but up from May 2017’s rate of 2.32. For the first six months of the year, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.54 per 1,000 passengers, an improvement over the 2.65 rate for the same period last year.
The consumer report also includes data on on-time performance, cancellations, 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 information about the total number of animals that died, were injured, or were lost during air transport in June 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.
The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 76.2 percent in June 2017, down from both the 78.0 percent on-time rate in June 2016 and the 79.1 percent mark in May 2017.
The reporting carriers canceled 1.1 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in June 2017, up from the both the 1.0 percent cancellation rate posted in June 2016 and the 0.8 percent rate in May 2017.
In June, airlines reported six tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights compared to twenty-seven such tarmac delays reported in May 2017. In June, airlines also reported two tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights compared to no such tarmac delays reported in May 2017. All reported extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.
Chronically Delayed Flights
At the end of June, there were three regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for four consecutive months. There were an additional 12 regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed for three consecutive months and an additional 83 regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed for two consecutive months. A list of flights that were chronically delayed for one or more months is available from BTS.
Causes of Flight Delays
In June 2017, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 23.76 percent of their flights were delayed – 6.86 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.89 percent in May; 8.85 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.40 percent in May; 5.96 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.19 percent in May; 0.70 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.37 percent in May; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.02 percent in May. In addition, 1.09 percent of flights were canceled and 0.26 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 June, 33.41 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from 31.93 percent in June 2016 and from 28.56 percent in May 2017.
Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available from BTS.
Incidents Involving Animals
In June, carriers reported three incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from the six reports filed in June 2016, but up from the one report filed in May 2017. June’s incidents involved the death of one animal and injuries to two other animals.
Complaints About Airline Service
In June, DOT received 1,605 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 7.7 percent from the total of 1,490 filed in June 2016, but down 9.8 percent from the 1,779 received in May 2017. From January to June 2017, the Department received 9,026 consumer complaints, up 7.8 percent from the total of 8,375 received during the first six months of 2016.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in June against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 77 disability-related complaints in June, down from both the 82 complaints received in June 2016 and the 78 received in May 2017. For the first six months of the year, the Department received 408 disability-related complaints, down from the 424 filed during January-June 2016. All complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability are investigated.
Complaints About Discrimination
In June, the Department received three complaints alleging discrimination – all regarding race. This is a decrease from the total of six discrimination complaints recorded in June 2016 and the nine recorded in May 2017. For the first six months of this year, the Department received 44 discrimination complaints – 29 complaints regarding race, two complaints regarding ancestry/ethnicity, four complaints regarding national origin, two complaints regarding color, two complaints regarding religion, four complaints regarding sex, and one complaint categorized as “other.” This is up from the 39 recorded in January-June 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 JUNE 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
76.2 percent on-time arrivals
Highest On-Time Arrival Rates
- Hawaiian Airlines – 90.4 percent
- Alaska Airlines – 82.9 percent
- Delta Air Lines – 82.8 percent
Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates
- JetBlue Airways – 60.6 percent
- Virgin America – 67.2 percent
- Spirit Airlines – 68.3 percent
Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours
- American Airlines flight 1310 from New Orleans to Chicago O’Hare, 6/14/17 – delayed 214 minutes on the tarmac at Chicago O’Hare
- United Airlines flight 61 from Newark to Honolulu, 6/19/17 – delayed 198 minutes on the tarmac in Newark
- United Airlines flight 2400 from Boston to San Francisco, 6/27/17 – delayed 190 minutes on the tarmac in Boston
- American Airlines flight 2669 from Miami to San Francisco, 6/6/17 – delayed 187 minutes on the tarmac in Miami
- Delta Air Lines flight 270 from New York JFK to Minneapolis-St. Paul, 6/30/17 – delayed 187 minutes on the tarmac at New York JFK
International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours
- Qatar Airways flight 707 from Doha, Qatar to Washington Dulles, 6/20/17 – delayed 258 minutes on the tarmac at Baltimore-Washington after being diverted
- Delta Air Lines flight 0149 from Amsterdam to Newark, 6/19/17 – delayed 243 minutes on the tarmac in Boston after being diverted
Highest Rates of Canceled Flights
- Spirit Airlines – 4.1 percent
- JetBlue Airways – 2.5 percent
- ExpressJet Airlines – 2.2 percent
Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights
- Delta Air Lines – 0.1 percent
- Hawaiian Airlines – 0.2 percent
- Frontier Airlines – 0.3 percent