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Airlines Report 11 Tarmac Delays Over Three Hours on Domestic Flights, 10 Tarmac Delays Over Four Hours on International Flights in July

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


WASHINGTON – Airlines reported 11 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and 10 tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights in July, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report released today.  All reported extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.

In addition, in July, the Department received 1,963 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 9.4 percent from the total of 2,166 filed in July 2015, but up 31.6 percent from the 1,492 received in June 2016.

The consumer report also includes data on on-time performance, cancellations, chronically delayed flights, and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by the reporting carriers.  The report also includes statistics on mishandled baggage reports filed by consumers with the reporting carriers, data on oversales, and information about the total number of animals that died, were injured, or were lost during air transport in July, as filed by the air carriers with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

On-Time Performance

The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 75.2 percent in July 2016, down from both the 78.1 percent on-time rate in July 2015 and the 78.0 percent mark in June 2016.


The reporting carriers canceled 1.9 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in July 2016, up from both the 0.9 percent cancellation rate posted in July 2015 and the 1.0 percent rate in June 2016.

Chronically Delayed Flights

At the end of July, there were 66 flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months.  There were no 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 July, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 24.85 percent of their flights were delayed – 6.39 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 5.85 percent in June; 8.64 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.91 percent in June; 6.68 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.10 percent in June; 0.86 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.68 percent in June; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, equal to 0.04 percent in June.  In addition, 1.85 percent of flights were canceled and 0.39 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 July, 36.03 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from both 29.36 percent in July 2015 and 31.93 percent in June 2016.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available from BTS.

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.32 reports per 1,000 passengers in July, up from both July 2015’s rate of 3.16 and June 2016’s rate of 2.82.

Incidents Involving Animals

In July, carriers reported two incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from both the five reports filed in July 2015 and the six reports filed in June 2016.  July’s incidents involved the deaths of two animals.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in July against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.  The Department received a total of 70 disability-related complaints in July, down from both the 100 complaints received in July 2015 and the 83 complaints received in June 2016.

Complaints About Discrimination

In July, the Department received eight complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin, or sex – equal to the total of eight recorded in July 2015, but up from the six recorded in June 2016.

Consumers may file air travel service complaints on the web at 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




September 2016

Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 12 Reporting Carriers and Tarmac Data Filed by All Carriers


     75.2 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Alaska Airlines – 89.4 percent
  2. Hawaiian Airlines – 88.8 percent
  3. SkyWest Airlines – 82.9 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates  

  1. Frontier Airlines – 63.3 percent
  2. JetBlue Airways – 67.8 percent
  3. American Airlines – 70.7 percent

Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours

  1. United Airlines flight 994 from San Francisco to Newark, 7/25/16 – delayed 208 minutes on the tarmac in Richmond, Va. after being diverted
  2. American Airlines flight 627 from Detroit to Phoenix, 7/18/16 – delayed 199 minutes on the tarmac in Tucson, Ariz. after being diverted
  3. Piedmont Airlines flight 4805 from Augusta, Ga. to Charlotte, 7/18/16 – delayed 195 minutes on the tarmac in Augusta
  4. United Airlines flight 1640 from Los Angeles to Newark, 7/25/16 – delayed 192 minutes on the tarmac at Washington Dulles after being diverted
  5. Delta Air Lines flight 1666 from Atlanta to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., 7/21/16 – delayed 190 minutes on the tarmac in Atlanta

International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours

  1. Lufthansa flight 446 from Frankfurt, Germany to Denver, 7/18/16 – delayed 388 minutes on the tarmac in Colorado Springs, Colo. after being diverted
  2. Air Serbia flight 501 from New York JFK to Belgrade, Serbia, 7/1/16 – delayed 306 minutes on the tarmac at New York JFK
  3. United Airlines flight 1518 from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to Newark, 7/1/16 – delayed 270 minutes on the tarmac at New York JFK after being diverted
  4. Japan Airlines flight 4 from Tokyo Narita to New York JFK, 7/25/16 – delayed 264 minutes on the tarmac in Boston after being diverted
  5. China Eastern Airlines flight 588 from New York JFK to Shanghai Pudong, China, 7/7/16 – delayed 263 minutes on the tarmac at New York JFK

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights   

  1. ExpressJet Airlines – 5.3 percent
  2. Southwest Airlines – 2.9 percent
  3. Spirit Airlines – 2.1 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Alaska Airlines – 0.1 percent
  2. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.2 percent
  3. Delta Air Lines – 0.3 percent


DOT 114-16