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April 2016 Complaints Down and On-Time Performance Up From Previous Year, March 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016


WASHINGTON – In April, the U.S. Department of Transportation received 1,122 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 20.9 percent from the total of 1,419 filed in April 2015 and down 21.5 percent from the 1,429 received in March 2016, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today.

The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 84.5 percent in April 2016, up from both the 81.8 percent on-time rate in April 2015 and the 81.5 percent mark in March 2016.

The reporting carriers canceled 0.9 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in April 2016, equal to the 0.9 percent cancellation rate posted in April 2015 and an improvement over the 1.0 percent rate in March 2016.

The consumer report also includes data on 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.  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 April, as filed by the air carriers with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Tarmac Delays

In April, airlines reported two tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and two tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights.  All reported extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.

Chronically Delayed Flights

At the end of April, there were no flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two 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 April, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 15.50 percent of their flights were delayed – 4.53 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 5.86 percent in March; 5.25 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.24 percent in March; 4.27 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.65 percent in March; 0.34 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.45 percent in March; and 0.03 percent for security reasons, compared to to 0.04 percent in March.  In addition, 0.89 percent of flights were canceled and 0.18 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 April, 29.94 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, virtually unchanged from 29.93 percent in April 2015 and down from 34.60 percent in March 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 2.31 reports per 1,000 passengers in April, an improvement over both April 2015’s rate of 2.77 and March 2016’s rate of 2.49.

Incidents Involving Animals

In April, carriers reported seven incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, up from both the six reports filed in April 2015 and the three reports filed in March 2016.  April’s incidents involved the deaths of three animals and injuries to four other animals.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in April against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.  The Department received a total of 52 disability-related complaints in April, down from both the 62 complaints received in April 2015 and the 77 complaints received in March 2016.

Complaints About Discrimination

In April, the Department received four complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin, or sex – down from both the total of seven recorded in April 2015 and the six recorded in March 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




June 2016

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


     84.5 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 94.1 percent
  2. Delta Air Lines – 90.3 percent
  3. Alaska Airlines – 89.4 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates  

  1. Spirit Airlines – 73.8 percent
  2. Virgin America – 76.4 percent
  3. JetBlue Airways – 78.9 percent

Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours

  1. American Airlines flight 2076 from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands to Charlotte, 4/30/16 – delayed 231 minutes on the tarmac in Columbia, S.C. after being diverted
  2. Alaska Airlines flight 3 from Washington Reagan National to Seattle-Tacoma, 4/26/16 – delayed 183 minutes on the tarmac at Washington Reagan National

International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours

  1. United Airlines flight 128 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Houston Bush, 4/17/16 – delayed 321 minutes on the tarmac in New Orleans after being diverted
  2. United Airlines flight 818 from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Houston Bush, 4/17/16 – delayed 280 minutes on the tarmac in New Orleans after being diverted

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights   

  1. Spirit Airlines – 1.7 percent
  2. ExpressJet Airlines – 1.5 percent
  3. United Airlines – 1.5 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

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


DOT 68-16