Air Travel Consumer Report: January 2023 Numbers
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) on airline operational data compiled for the month of January 2023 for on-time performance, mishandled baggage, and mishandled wheelchairs and scooters.
The ATCR is designed to assist consumers with information on the quality of services provided by airlines. DOT remains committed to ensuring airline passengers are treated fairly and is concerned about recent flight cancellations and flight disruptions and difficulties families are experiencing in sitting together with no fees. The Department is currently investigating several domestic airlines to ensure that they are not engaging in unrealistic scheduling of flights.
DOT uses the data from the ATCR, consumer complaints, and other information it secures from the airlines to inform its enforcement activities and the adequacy of existing rules.
DOT is taking unprecedented action to ensure the traveling public is protected. Last year, DOT issued the largest fines in the history of the consumer protection office – helping to get hundreds of thousands of people hundreds of millions of dollars back. And since 2021, DOT has helped return more than $1 billion in refunds to travelers. Further, in August, Secretary Buttigieg pressed airlines to do more for passengers who had a flight canceled or delayed when it was under the airline’s control, such as covering the costs of rebooking and guaranteeing meals and hotels. Before his urging, none of the 10 largest U.S. airlines guaranteed meals or hotels when a delay or cancellation was within the airlines’ control, and only one offered free rebooking. However after Secretary Buttigieg called on airlines to improve their service and created an airline customer service dashboard to make airline commitments transparent and accessible to the public, 10 airlines now guarantee meals and free rebooking when an airline issue causes a cancellation or delay, while nine guarantee hotels. Without these commitments, Southwest would not have been required to cover the costs of hotels, meals, and travel during its recent holiday debacle that stranded millions.
Further, earlier this year, Secretary Buttigieg pressed airlines to commit to fee-free family seating. Before his urging, no airline committed to guaranteeing fee-free family seating. Now three airlines have committed to guaranteeing fee-free family seating, and DOT is pursuing a rulemaking that would require all airlines to do so. To further assist consumers in assessing airline family seating commitments, earlier this month, DOT rolled out a new family seating dashboard that highlights the airlines that guarantee fee-free family seating, and those that do not, making it easier for parents to avoid paying junk fees to sit with their children when they fly.
The 562,845 flights operated in January 2023 were 106.59% of the 528,070 flights operated in January 2022. Operated flights in January 2023 were up 6.59% year-over-year from the 528,070 flights operated in January 2022 and up 2.87% month-over-month from 547,134 flights operated in December 2022.
In January 2023, the 10 marketing network carriers reported 573,877 scheduled domestic flights, 11,032 (1.9%) of which were canceled. In January 2022, airlines scheduled 563,737 domestic flights, of which 35,667 (6.31%) were canceled. In December 2022, airlines scheduled 578,321 domestic flights, of which 31,187 (5.4%) were canceled.
January 2023 On-Time Arrival
In January 2023, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 76.2% up from 69.0% in December 2022 and up from 75.2% in January 2022. The year-to-date on-time arrival rate for 2023 is 76.2%.
Highest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates January 2023 (ATCR Table 1)
- Delta Air Lines Network – 78.6%
- Alaska Airlines Network – 77.6%
- Southwest Airlines - 77.5%
Lowest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates January 2023 (ATCR Table 1)
- Frontier Airlines – 62.6%
- Spirit Airlines – 69.2%
- Allegiant Air – 70.4%
January 2023 Flight Cancellations
In January 2023, reporting marketing carriers canceled 1.9% of their scheduled domestic flights, lower than the rate 5.4% in December 2022 and lower than 6.3% in January 2022.
Lowest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights January 2023 (ATCR Table 6)
- JetBlue Airways – 0.8%
- Hawaiian Airlines – 1.1%
- Delta Air Lines Network – 1.1%
Highest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights January 2023 (ATCR Table 6)
- Frontier Airlines – 3.3%
- Southwest Airlines – 2.9%
- Spirit Airlines – 2.3%
Complaints About Airline Service
The Department received a high volume of air travel service complaints and inquiries against airlines and ticket agents in January 2023. The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection is working diligently to process the large number of complaints and inquiries received. Nevertheless, the issuance of the ATCR has been delayed because of the time needed to review and process these consumer complaints. Consumer complaint data for January 2023 will be publicly available in its usual format in May at https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/air-travel-consumer-reports.
In January 2023, airlines reported 18 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to 79 tarmac delays reported in December 2022. In January 2023, airlines reported zero tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to three tarmac delays reported in December 2022.
Airlines are required to have and adhere to assurances that they will not allow aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights without providing passengers the option to deplane, subject to exceptions related to safety, security, and Air Traffic Control related reasons. An exception also exists for departure delays if the airline begins to return the aircraft to a suitable disembarkation point to deplane passengers by those times.
Extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.
In January 2023, reporting marketing carriers handled 36.6 million bags and posted a mishandled baggage rate of 0.73%, lower than both the December 2022 rate of 1.09% and the January 2022 rate of 0.81%.
The Department began displaying the mishandled baggage data as a percentage (i.e., per 100 bags enplaned) in January 2022. This is consistent with the manner that the mishandled wheelchairs and scooters rate is calculated and displayed.
In the prior three calendar year reports (2019 to 2021), the Department calculated the mishandled baggage rate based on the number of mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags.
Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters
In January 2023, reporting marketing carriers reported checking 54,398 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 871 for a rate of 1.60% mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, lower than the rate of 1.62% mishandled in December 2022 and higher than the rate of 1.57% mishandled in January 2022.
Bumping/oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly. For the fourth quarter of 2022, the 10 U.S. reporting marketing carriers posted an involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, rate of 0.30 per 10,000 passengers, higher than the rate of 0.23 in the fourth quarter of 2021 and higher than the rate of 0.16 in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Incidents Involving Animals
In January 2023, carriers reported no incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, equal to the zero reports filed in December 2022 and up from the one report filed in pre-pandemic January 2022.
Consumers may file air travel consumer or civil rights complaints online at http://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm or by voicemail at (202) 366-2220, or they may 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.
The ATCR and other aviation consumer matters of interest to the public can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer.