WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today released its October 2017 Air Travel Consumer Report on air carrier data compiled for the month of August 2017. In August, the reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 77.1 percent, down from the 77.6 percent on-time rate in August 2016, but up from the 76.9 percent mark in July 2017.
The reporting carriers canceled 2.2 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, up from both the 1.4 percent cancellation rate posted in August 2016 and the 1.1 percent rate in July 2017.
The U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.45 reports per 1,000 passengers in August, an improvement over both August 2016’s rate of 3.15 and July 2017’s rate of 2.79.
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 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 data on oversales and information about the total number of animals that died, were injured, or were lost during air transport in August 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.
In August, airlines reported nine tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to 16 such tarmac delays reported in July 2017. In August, airlines also reported two tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to six such tarmac delays reported in July 2017. All reported extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.
Chronically Delayed Flights
At the end of August, there were five regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for four consecutive months. There were an additional 42 regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed for three consecutive months and an additional 32 regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed for two consecutive months. A list of flights that were chronically delayed for one or more months is available from BTS.
Causes of Flight Delays
In August 2017, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 22.92 percent of their flights were delayed – 6.25 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.41 percent in July; 8.07 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 8.46 percent in July; 5.54 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.89 percent in July; 0.61 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.82 percent in July; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.03 percent in July. In addition, 2.16 percent of flights were canceled and 0.25 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 August, 36.08 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from 33.80 percent in August 2016, but down from 36.79 percent in July 2017.
Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available from BTS.
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 August, carriers reported four incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, equal to the four reports filed in August 2016 and down from the five reports filed in July 2017. August’s incidents involved the deaths of three animals and injury to one other animal.
Complaints About Airline Service
In August, DOT received 1,907 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 15.3 percent from the total of 2,251 filed in August 2016 and down 0.4 percent from the 1,914 received in July 2017.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in August against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 98 disability-related complaints in August, up from both the 97 complaints received in August 2016 and the 92 received in July 2017. All complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability are investigated.
Complaints About Discrimination
In August, the Department received 11 complaints alleging discrimination – eight complaints regarding race, one complaint regarding ancestry/ethnicity, one complaint regarding national origin, and one complaint categorized as “other.” This is a decrease from the total of 15 discrimination complaints recorded in August 2016, but up from the seven recorded in July 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 AUGUST 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
77.1 percent on-time arrivals
Highest On-Time Arrival Rates
- Hawaiian Airlines – 93.0 percent
- Delta Air Lines – 87.4 percent
- Alaska Airlines – 82.8 percent
Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates
- Virgin America – 66.6 percent
- JetBlue Airways – 68.1 percent
- Southwest Airlines – 70.2 percent
Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours
- Allegiant Air flight 471 from Albuquerque, N.M. to Las Vegas, 8/17/17 – delayed 207 minutes on the tarmac in Albuquerque
- Air Wisconsin flight 4258 from Philadelphia to Louisville, Ky., 8/22/17 – delayed 206 minutes on the tarmac in Philadelphia
- PSA Airlines flight 5171 from Philadelphia to St. Louis, 8/22/17 – delayed 198 minutes on the tarmac in Philadelphia
- Alaska Airlines flight 54 from Portland, Ore. to Newark, N.J., 8/2/17 – delayed minutes 187 on the tarmac in Syracuse, N.Y. after being diverted
- Air Wisconsin flight 4151 from Philadelphia to Milwaukee, Wis., 8/22/17 – delayed 184 minutes on the tarmac in Philadelphia
International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours
- Virgin Australia flight 24 from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia, 8/26/17 – delayed 269 minutes on the tarmac in Honolulu after being diverted
- American Airlines flight 805 from Cancún, Mexico to Philadelphia, 8/18/17 – delayed 242 minutes on the tarmac in Norfolk, Va. after being diverted
Highest Rates of Canceled Flights
- ExpressJet Airlines – 6.8 percent
- United Airlines – 4.0 percent
- Spirit Airlines – 3.4 percent
Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights
- Delta Air Lines – 0.2 percent
- Hawaiian Airlines – 0.3 percent
- Virgin America – 0.6 percent