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Flight Cancellations Down From Previous Year, January 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its April 2017 Air Travel Consumer Report, compiling air carrier data for the month of February 2017.  The April report contains denied boarding (oversales) data for the October-December 2016 quarter, as airlines report denied boarding numbers by quarter.  Denied boarding numbers for the January-March quarter will be available in the May Air Travel Consumer Report.

The reporting carriers canceled 1.5 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in February 2017, an improvement over both the 1.6 percent cancellation rate posted in February 2016 and the 2.0 percent rate in January 2017.

The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 82.6 percent in February 2017, down from the 83.6 percent on-time rate in February 2016, but up from the 76.0 percent mark in January 2017.

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 statistics on mishandled baggage reports filed by consumers with the reporting carriers, and information about the total number of animals that died, were injured, or were lost during air transport in February 2017, as filed by the air carriers with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Today, the Department also launched a new airline passenger microsite in order to make it easy for travelers to understand their rights.  The site can be viewed here:

Tarmac Delays

In February, airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and four 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 February, there were seven flights that was chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for three consecutive months.  There were an additional eight 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 a single month is available from BTS:

Causes of Flight Delays

In February, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 17.43 percent of their flights were delayed – 5.45 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 7.19 percent in January; 5.50 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.86 percent in January; 4.22 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.90 percent in January; 0.46 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.72 percent in January; and 0.02 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.04 percent in January.  In addition, 1.54 percent of flights were canceled and 0.24 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 February, 34.29 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, down from 35.72 percent in February 2016 and virtually unchanged from 34.33 percent in January 2017.

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 2.16 reports per 1,000 passengers in February, down from both February 2016’s rate of 2.64 and from January 2017’s rate of 3.40.


The carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.62 per 10,000 passengers in 2016, an improvement over the 0.73 rate posted in 2015 and the lowest annual rate based on historical data dating back to 1995.  The previous low was 0.72 in 2002.  These carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.54 per 10,000 passengers for the quarter, down from the 0.69 rate for the fourth quarter of 2015.  January-March 2017 data will be available in the May Air Travel Consumer Report.

Incidents Involving Animals

In February, carriers reported two incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from both the three reports filed in February 2016 and the six reports filed in January 2017.  February’s incidents involved injury to one animal and one lost animal.

Complaints About Airline Service

In February, the U.S. Department of Transportation received 950 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 36.7 percent from the total of 1,501 filed in February 2016 and down 42.5 percent from the 1,651 received in January 2017. 

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in February against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.  The Department received a total of 55 disability-related complaints in February, down from both the 68 complaints received in February 2016 and the 75 complaints received in January 2017.  All complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability are investigated.

Complaints About Discrimination

In February, the Department received five complaints alleging discrimination – three complaints regarding race, one complaint regarding religion, and one complaint regarding sex.  This is a decrease from the total of seven recorded in February 2016 and the 12 recorded in January 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 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



April 2017


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


     82.6 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Delta Air Lines – 89.5 percent
  2. American Airlines – 85.2 percent
  3. ExpressJet Airlines – 82.4 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates 

  1. Virgin America – 64.6 percent
  2. JetBlue Airways – 72.3 percent
  3. Alaska Airlines – 77.6 percent

Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours

* There were no domestic flights in February with tarmac delays exceeding three hours.

International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours

  1. China Eastern Airlines flight 587 from Shanghai Pudong, China to New York JFK, 2/9/17 – delayed 482 minutes on the tarmac at Washington Dulles after being diverted
  2. JetBlue Airways flight 2850 from Quito, Ecuador to Fort Lauderdale, 2/25/17 – delayed 256 minutes on the tarmac in West Palm Beach, Fla. after being diverted
  3. JetBlue Airways flight 40 from Medellín, Colombia to Fort Lauderdale, 2/25/17 – delayed 248 minutes on the tarmac in West Palm Beach, Fla. after being diverted
  4. All Nippon Airways flight 110 from Tokyo Haneda to New York JFK, 2/9/17 – delayed 247 minutes on the tarmac at Washington Dulles after being diverted

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights  

  1. JetBlue Airways – 4.4 percent
  2. Virgin America – 3.5 percent
  3. SkyWest Airlines – 2.4 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.2 percent
  2. Delta Air Lines – 0.5 percent
  3. Frontier Airlines – 0.8 percent


DOT 33-17

Got Flights? Know Your Rights.