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Flight Cancellations, Mishandled Baggage Rate at All-Time Low

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

WASHINGTON – The reporting carriers canceled 0.29 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in November 2016, the lowest for any of the 263 months with comparable records beginning in January 1995, and below the previous low of 0.33 percent in September 2016, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) released today.  The reporting carriers canceled 1.0 percent of their flights in both November 2015 and October 2016.

In addition, the U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.02 reports per 1,000 passengers in November, the lowest rate since mishandled baggage reporting started in 1987.  The previous low rate was 2.06 in October 2016.  The November 2015 rate was 2.53.

The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 86.5 percent in November 2016, an improvement over both the 83.7 percent mark in November 2015 and the 85.5 percent on-time rate in October 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.  In addition, the consumer report contains a tally of aviation service complaints filed with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division by consumers regarding a range of issues such as flight problems, baggage, reservation and ticketing, refunds, customer service, and disability.  The report also includes data on oversales and information about the total number of animals that died, were injured, or were lost during air transport in November, as filed by the air carriers with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Tarmac Delays

In November, airlines reported two tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights.  All reported extended tarmac delays are being investigated by the Department.

Chronically Delayed Flights

At the end of November, 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 November, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 13.51 percent of their flights were delayed – 4.43 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 4.64 percent in October; 4.51 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 4.64 percent in October; 3.83 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 3.96 percent in October; 0.26 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.18 percent in October; and 0.03 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.02 percent in October.  In addition, 0.29 percent of flights were canceled and 0.16 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 November, 29.36 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, down from 30.45 percent in November 2015 but up from 23.65 percent in October 2016.

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

Incidents Involving Animals

In November, carriers reported four incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from the six reports filed in November 2015, and equal to the four reports filed in October 2016.  November’s incidents involved the deaths of two animals and injuries to two other animals.

Complaints About Airline Service

In November, the U.S. Department of Transportation received 1,020 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 21.8 percent from the total of 1,305 filed in November 2015 and down 19.5 percent from the 1,267 received in October 2016.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in November against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.  The Department received a total of 73 disability-related complaints in November, down from both the 96 complaints received in November 2015 and the 79 complaints received in October 2016.

Complaints About Discrimination

In November, the Department received 14 complaints alleging discrimination – five complaints regarding race, two complaints regarding national origin, one complaint regarding color, three complaints regarding religion, and three complaints regarding sex.  This is an increase from both the total of six recorded in November 2015 and the eight recorded in October 2016.  All complaints alleging discrimination are investigated to determine if there has been a violation(s) of the passenger’s civil rights.

Consumers may file air travel consumer or civil rights 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




January 2017


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


     86.5 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 91.5 percent
  2. Delta Air Lines – 91.4 percent
  3. Alaska Airlines – 88.0 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates  

  1. Virgin America – 81.4 percent
  2. ExpressJet Airlines – 82.8 percent
  3. JetBlue Airways – 84.3 percent

Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours

  1. Southwest Airlines flight 3227 from Denver to Oklahoma City, Okla., 11/15/16 – delayed 205 minutes on the tarmac in Oklahoma City
  2. United Airlines flight 775 from Denver to Las Vegas, 11/17/16 – delayed 189 minutes on the tarmac in Denver

International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours

* There were no international flights in November with tarmac delays exceeding four hours.

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights   

  1. ExpressJet Airlines – 0.9 percent
  2. SkyWest Airlines – 0.7 percent
  3. Spirit Airlines – 0.3 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Delta Air Lines – 0.0 percent
  2. Alaska Airlines – 0.1 percent
  3. Frontier Airlines – 0.1 percent