Air Travel Consumer Report: October 2021 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 October 2021 for on-time performance, mishandled baggage, mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, complaints received, and oversales. The ATCR is designed to assist consumers with information on the quality of services provided by airlines. The ATCR and other aviation consumer matters of interest to the public can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer.
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to result in significant changes to airline schedules and operations in October 2021. The 582,759 flights operated in October 2021 were 84.8% of the 686,811 flights operated in pre-pandemic October 2019.
Operated flights in October 2021 were up 56.4% year-over-year from the 372,544 flights operated in October 2020 and up 4.0% month-over-month from the 560,140 flights operated in September 2021.
In October 2021, the 10 marketing network carriers reported 595,373 scheduled domestic flights, 12,614 (2.12%) of which were canceled. In October 2020, the same airlines reported 374,538 scheduled domestic flights, 1,994 (0.5%) of which were canceled. In pre-pandemic October 2019, airlines reported 692,944 scheduled domestic flights, 6,133 (0.8%) of which were canceled. In September 2021, airlines scheduled 567,916 domestic flights, of which 7,776 (1.4%) were canceled.
In October 2021, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 79.9%, down from both the 84.5% in September 2021 and the all-time high of 92.9% in October 2020.
Highest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates October 2021 (ATCR Table 1)
- Hawaiian Airlines – 94.1%
- Delta Air Lines Network – 88.1%
- Alaska Airlines Network – 82.7%
Lowest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates October 2021 (ATCR Table 1)
- Allegiant Air – 65.9%
- Southwest Airlines – 67.1%
- JetBlue Airways– 78.5%
In October 2021, reporting marketing carriers canceled 2.1% of their scheduled domestic flights, higher than the rate of 1.37% in September 2021 and higher than the 0.7% in October 2020.
Lowest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights October 2021 (ATCR Table 6)
- Hawaiian Airlines – 0.2%
- JetBlue Airways – 0.3%
- Delta Air Lines Network– 0.5%
Highest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights October 2021 (ATCR Table 6)
- Southwest Airlines – 3.8%
- Allegiant Air– 3.6%
- American Airlines Network – 1.6%
In October 2021, airlines reported zero tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to 16 tarmac delays reported in September 2021 and 1 tarmac delay reported in October 2020. In October 2021, airlines reported zero tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to 1 tarmac delay reported in September 2021 and 1 tarmac delay in October 2020.
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 October 2021, reporting marketing carriers handled nearly 37 million bags and posted a mishandled baggage rate of 5.28 mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags, a higher rate than the September 2021 rate of 4.47 per 1,000 checked bags and higher than the October 2020 rate of 3.52 per 1,000 checked bags.
Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters
In October 2021, reporting marketing carriers reported checking 57,491 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 782, a rate of 1.36% mishandled, higher than both the rate of 1.21% mishandled in September 2021 and the rate of 1.29% mishandled in October 2020. In October 2020, the airlines checked 22,019 wheelchairs and scooters, mishandling 285.
Bumping/oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly.
For the third quarter of 2021, the 10 U.S. reporting marketing carriers posted an involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, rate of 0.16 per 10,000 passengers, lower than the rate of 0.17 in the second quarter of 2021 as well as in the third quarter of 2020.
Incidents Involving Animals
In October 2021, carriers reported zero incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from the one report filed in September 2021 and equal to the zero reports filed in October 2020.
Complaints About Airline Service
In October 2021, DOT received 3,832 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 10.3% from the 4,271 received in September 2021, and down 23.5% from the total of 5,008 filed in October 2020. Of the 3,832 complaints received in October 2021, 1,778 (46.4%) were against U.S. carriers, 1,517 (39.6%) were against foreign air carriers, and 532 (13.9%) were against travel companies.
Also, of the 3,832 complaints received, 1,952 (50.9%) concerned refunds. The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection continues to communicate with airlines and travel companies that receive refund complaints to ensure compliance with the refund requirements. Many passengers who had initially been denied refunds have received the required refunds. The Department has taken and will take enforcement action against noncompliant airlines and ticket agents as necessary.
Flight problems was the second highest category of the complaints received in October 2021. Of the 3,832 complaints received, 674 (17.6%) concerned cancellations, delays, or other deviations from airlines’ schedules. The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection routinely contacts airlines with widespread cancellations or delays to remind them of their obligation to promptly refund passengers who choose not to accept the alternative offered for a canceled or significantly changed flight. Airlines are also required to have and adhere to a customer service plan that identifies the services that the airline provides to mitigate passenger inconveniences resulting from flight cancellations and misconnections. The Department monitors airlines’ actions and reviews complaints that it receives against airlines to ensure that consumers’ rights are not violated.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
In October 2021, the Department received a total of 157 disability-related complaints, up from both the 134 complaints received in September 2021 and from the 51 complaints received in October 2020.
Complaints About Discrimination
In October 2021, the Department received 11 complaints alleging discrimination – nine complaints regarding race and two complaints regarding color. This is up from both the 10 complaints received in September 2021 and from the one complaint received in October 2020.
The ATCR and other aviation consumer matters of interest to the public can be found at http://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer.
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.