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Airline On-Time Performance in June Improves from Last Year but Down

The nation’s largest airlines’ on-time arrival performance in June 2011 was an improvement from June 2010, but down from May 2011, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

Information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, shows that the 16 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 76.9 percent in June, up from the 76.4 percent on-time rate of June 2010 but down from May 2011’s 77.1 percent rate.

The monthly report also includes data on lengthy tarmac delays, on-time performance, chronically delayed flights, flight cancellations, and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department by the reporting carriers.  In addition, the report contains information on airline bumping, reports of mishandled baggage filed by consumers with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.  This report also includes reports of incidents involving pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.

Tarmac Delays

The carriers filing on-time performance with the Department reported 14 total tarmac delays of more than three hours in June, compared to three in June 2010 and 16 in May 2011.  Five of the tarmac delays occurred at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on June 21 and three at Washington Dulles Airport on June 16, all taking place on days the areas experienced storms.  All of the reported tarmac delays are under investigation by the Department.


During June, the carriers canceled 1.8 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, compared to 1.5 percent in June 2010 and 2.1 percent in May 2011.

Chronically Delayed Flights

At the end of June, there were four flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for three consecutive months.  There were an additional six flights that were chronically delayed for two consecutive months.  There were no chronically delayed flights for four consecutive months or more. 

Causes of Flight Delays

             In June, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 6.06 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.67 percent in May; 8.15 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.71 percent in May; 6.10 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.47 percent in May; 0.67 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.68 percent in May; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.05 percent in May.  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.

Data collected by BTS also shows the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In June, 36.70 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, down 9.23 percent from June 2010, when 40.43 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and down 13.55 percent from May when 42.45 percent of late flights were delayed by weather.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available on the BTS site on the World Wide Web at

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.57 reports per 1,000 passengers in June, down from June 2010’s rate of 3.65, but up from May 2011’s rate of 3.52.  For the first six months of the year, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.57 per 1,000 passengers, down from the 3.61 rate for the first half of 2010.


The report also includes reports of involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, for the second quarter and first six months of this year.  The 16 U.S. carriers who report denied boarding data posted a bumping rate of 0.85 per 10,000 passengers for the quarter, down from the 1.07 rate for the second quarter of 2010.  For the first six months of this year, the carriers had a bumping rate of 0.87 per 10,000 passengers, down from the rate of 1.39 rate posted during the first six months of 2010.   

Incidents Involving Pets

In June, carriers reported five incidents involving the loss, death or injury of pets while traveling by air, down from the six reports filed in June 2010, but up from the two reports filed in May 2011.  June’s incidents involved the deaths of four pets and the injury of one pet.

Complaints About Airline Service

In June, the Department received 1,127 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 20.8 percent from the 1,423 complaints filed in June 2010, and up 6.1 percent from the 1,062 received in May 2011.  For the first six months of this year, passengers filed 5,418 complaints, down 6.0 percent from the total of 5,762 received during January-June 2010.

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 48 disability-related complaints in June, down from both the total of 64 complaints filed in June 2010 and the 57 complaints received in May 2011.  For the first six months of the year, the Department received 284 disability-related complaints, up 5.6 percent from the 269 filed during January-June 2010.

Complaints About Discrimination

In June, the Department received 12 complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – down from the total of 22 recorded in June 2010, but up from the total of 10 recorded in May 2011.  For the first six months of this year the Department received 64 discrimination complaints, down from the 72 recorded in January-June 2010. 

Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590; by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511; or on the web at

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.


June 2011

Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics
by the 16 Reporting Carriers


  •       76.9 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  •     Hawaiian Airlines – 93.1 percent
  •     Alaska Airlines – 91.4 percent
  •     Southwest Airlines – 80.5 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

  •     Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 65.9 percent
  •     ExpressJet Airlines – 72.0 percent
  •     US Airways – 73.0 percent

Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays

  1.     American Eagle Airlines flight 4503 from New York JFK to St. Louis, MO, 6/25/11 – delayed on tarmac 238 minutes
  2. Delta Air Lines flight 730 from Charleston, SC to Atlanta, 6/15/11 – delayed on tarmac 217 minutes
  3. US Airways flight 1840 from Charlotte, NC to Pittsburgh, 6/28/11 – delayed on tarmac 211 minutes
  4. United Airlines flight 525 from Chicago O’Hare to New York LaGuardia, 6/21/11 – delayed on tarmac 211 minutes
  5. United Airlines flight 562 from Washington Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth, 6/16/11 – delayed on tarmac 209 minutes

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

    American Eagle Airlines – 4.6 percent
    Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 3.8 percent
    ExpressJet Airlines – 3.5 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  •     Continental Airlines – 0.2 percent
  •     Frontier Airlines – 0.3 percent
  •     Alaska Airlines – 0.3 percent
Updated: Friday, February 27, 2015
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