WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today released its September 2017 Air Travel Consumer Report, on air carrier data compiled for the month of July 2017. In July, the reporting carriers canceled 1.1 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, an improvement over the 1.9 percent cancellation rate posted in July 2016 and equal to the 1.1 percent rate in June 2017.
The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 76.9 percent in July 2017, up from both the 75.2 percent on-time rate in July 2016 and the 76.2 percent mark in June 2017.
In July 2017, airlines reported 16 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to six such tarmac delays reported in June 2017. In July, airlines also reported six tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to two such tarmac delays reported in June 2017. All reported extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.
The consumer report also includes data on 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 record of aviation service complaints filed with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division by consumers regarding a range of issues including flight problems, baggage, reservation and ticketing, refunds, customer service, disability access, and discrimination. 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 2017, as filed by the air carriers with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.
The Department has launched an airline passenger microsite to make it easy for travelers to understand their rights. The site can be viewed here: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/flights-and-rights.
Chronically Delayed Flights
At the end of July, there were 28 regularly scheduled 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 134 regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed for two consecutive months. There were no chronically delayed flights for four consecutive months or more. A list of flights that were chronically delayed for one or more months is available from BTS.
Causes of Flight Delays
In July 2017, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 23.05 percent of their flights were delayed – 6.41 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.86 percent in June; 8.46 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 8.85 percent in June; 5.89 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.96 percent in June; 0.82 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.70 percent in June; and 0.03 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.04 percent in June. In addition, 1.13 percent of flights were canceled and 0.31 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, 36.79 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from 36.03 percent in July 2016 and from 33.41 percent in June 2017.
Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available from BTS.
The U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.79 reports per 1,000 passengers in July, an improvement over July 2016’s rate of 3.32, but up from June 2017’s rate of 2.65.
Oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly. For the first six months of this year, the 12 U.S. carriers who report involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, data posted a bumping rate of 0.52 per 10,000 passengers, the lowest January through June rate based on historical data dating back to 1995 and down from the rate of 0.62 posted during the first six months of 2016. For the second quarter of 2017, the carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.44 per 10,000 passengers, the lowest quarterly rate based on historical data dating back to 1995 and down from the rate of 0.62 posted in both the second quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. Six-month and second-quarter bumping numbers were previously released in the August Air Travel Consumer Report, which includes denied boarding numbers by airline.
Incidents Involving Animals
In July, carriers reported five incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, up from both the two reports filed in July 2016 and the three reports filed in June 2017. July’s incidents involved the deaths of four animals and injury to one other animal.
Complaints About Airline Service
In July, DOT received 1,914 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 2.5 percent from the total of 1,964 filed in July 2016, but up 19.3 percent from the 1,605 received in June 2017.
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 92 disability-related complaints in July, up from both the 72 complaints received in July 2016 and the 77 received in June 2017. All complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability are investigated.
Complaints About Discrimination
In July, the Department received seven complaints alleging discrimination – five complaints regarding race, one complaint regarding national origin, and one complaint regarding sex. This is a decrease from the total of eight discrimination complaints recorded in July 2016, but up from the three recorded in June 2017. 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 http://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm 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 http://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-consumer-reports.
AIR TRAVEL CONSUMER REPORT
KEY JULY 2017 ON-TIME PERFORMANCE AND FLIGHT CANCELLATION STATISTICS
Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 12 Reporting Carriers and Tarmac Data Filed by All Carriers
76.9 percent on-time arrivals
Highest On-Time Arrival Rates
- Hawaiian Airlines – 92.3 percent
- Alaska Airlines – 85.7 percent
- Delta Air Lines – 83.1 percent
Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates
- JetBlue Airways – 63.5 percent
- American Airlines – 73.1 percent
- Spirit Airlines – 73.5 percent
Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours
- United Airlines flight 401 from Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Nev. to Denver, 7/21/17 – delayed 252 minutes on the tarmac in Colorado Springs, Colo. after being diverted
- United Airlines flight 2426 from Orange County, Calif. to Denver, 7/21/17 – delayed 231 minutes on the tarmac in Colorado Springs, Colo. after being diverted
- United Airlines flight 664 from Chicago O’Hare to Philadelphia, 7/23/17 – delayed 221 minutes on the tarmac in Lehigh Valley, Pa. after being diverted
- JetBlue Airways flight 225 from New York JFK to Tampa, Fla., 7/7/17 – delayed 217 minutes on the tarmac at New York JFK
- Delta Air Lines flight 211 from New York JFK to Atlanta, 7/7/17 – delayed 213 minutes on the tarmac at New York JFK
International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours
- American Airlines flight 1967 from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to Charlotte, 7/23/17 – delayed 328 minutes on the tarmac at Raleigh-Durham, N.C. after being diverted
- American Airlines flight 863 from Montego Bay, Jamaica to Charlotte, 7/23/17 – delayed 310 minutes on the tarmac at Raleigh-Durham, N.C. after being diverted
- American Airlines flight 731 from London Heathrow to Charlotte, 7/23/17 – delayed 299 minutes on the tarmac at Raleigh-Durham, N.C. after being diverted
- American Airlines flight 112 from Miami to Barcelona, Spain, 7/12/17 – delayed 260 minutes on the tarmac in Miami
- Air Canada Rouge flight 1854 from Las Vegas to Montréal, Canada, 7/7/17 – delayed 256 minutes on the tarmac in Las Vegas
Highest Rates of Canceled Flights
- ExpressJet Airlines – 3.0 percent
- Spirit Airlines – 2.9 percent
- JetBlue Airways – 2.5 percent
Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights
- Delta Air Lines – 0.0 percent*
- Hawaiian Airlines – 0.3 percent
- Virgin America – 0.3 percent
*Delta Air Lines canceled 36 flights in July.