WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today that in calendar year 2014, airlines reported the lowest number of tarmac delays longer than three hours on record. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report, in 2014 there were 30 domestic flights with tarmac delays longer than three hours and nine international flights with tarmac delays longer than four hours at U.S. airports. There were no long domestic or international tarmac delays in December 2014.
In 2009, the last full year before the Department’s domestic tarmac rule went into effect, airlines reported 868 domestic flights with tarmac delays longer than three hours. There were 84 domestic flights with tarmac delays longer than three hours and 55 international flights with tarmac delays longer than four hours at U.S. airports in 2013.
“These tarmac delay rules are meant to protect passengers and it appears that the airlines have gotten the message,” said Secretary Foxx. “We have aggressively enforced, and will continue to aggressively enforce, our tarmac delay rules to ensure that carriers have adequate resources, such as staff and equipment, to minimize passengers’ exposure to lengthy tarmac delays, and that passengers are treated with respect before, during, and after their flights.”
The Department’s rule prohibiting U.S. carriers operating domestic flights from allowing tarmac delays longer than three hours without giving passengers an opportunity to deplane went into effect in April 2010. A separate rule prohibiting U.S. and foreign carriers operating international flights to or from the U.S. from allowing tarmac delays longer than four hours at U.S. airports without giving passengers an opportunity to deplane took effect in August 2011. Exceptions to the time limits for both domestic and international flights are allowed only for safety, security, or air traffic control-related reasons.
In addition, the nation’s largest airlines canceled 1.4 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in December, half of the 2.9 percent cancellation rate posted in December 2013, but up from the 0.9 percent rate in November 2014.
The consumer report also includes data on on-time performance, 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 information on passengers denied confirmed space (oversales/bumping) as filed with BTS by the carriers, statistics on mishandled baggage, as well as consumer service, disability, and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. The Department routinely contacts individual carriers when it notices spikes or significant variations in complaint types or complaint levels in regulated areas. The consumer report also includes reports of incidents involving the loss, death, or injury of pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.
The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 75.3 percent in December, up from the 68.9 percent on-time rate in December 2013, but down from the 80.6 percent mark in November 2014.
Chronically Delayed Flights
At the end of December, there was one flight that was chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for three consecutive months. There were an additional five 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 December, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 6.99 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 5.93 percent in November; 8.82 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.72 percent in November; 6.82 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.19 percent in November; 0.41 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.46 percent in November; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.02 percent in November.
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.
Data collected by BTS also shows the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In December, 32.31 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from 28.72 in November and from 30.49 in December 2013.
Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available on the BTS site at http://www.bts.gov.
The U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.25 reports per 1,000 passengers in December, down from December 2013’s rate of 4.56, but up from November 2014’s rate of 2.92. For all of last year, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.62 per 1,000 passengers, up from 2013’s rate of 3.22.
The report also includes airline reports of involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, for calendar year 2014 and the fourth quarter of last year. The 14 U.S. carriers who report on-time performance and mishandled baggage data posted a bumping rate of 0.92 per 10,000 passengers last year, up from the 0.90 rate posted in 2013. For the fourth quarter of last year, the carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.56 per 10,000 passengers, down from the 0.88 rate for the fourth quarter of 2013.
Incidents Involving Pets
In December, carriers reported two incidents involving the loss, death, or injury of pets while traveling by air, equal to the two reports filed in December 2013 and the two reports filed in November 2014. December’s incidents involved one injured pet and one lost pet. For all of last year, carriers reported 17 pet deaths, 26 pet injuries, and two lost pets. In 2013, carriers reported 21 pet deaths, 15 pet injuries, and six lost pets.
Complaints About Airline Service
In December, the Department received 1,061 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 5.1 percent from the total of 1,118 filed in December 2013, but up 16.6 percent from the 910 received in November 2014. For all of last year, the Department received 15,532 complaints, up 17.9 percent from the total of 13,176 received in 2013.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in December against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 60 disability-related complaints in December, up from both the 49 complaints received in December 2013 and the 43 complaints received in November 2014. For all of last year, the Department received 774 disability complaints, up 13.3 percent from the total of 683 received in 2013.
Complaints About Discrimination
In December, the Department received five complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin, or sex – down from the total of nine recorded in December 2013, but up from the two recorded in November 2014. For all of last year, the Department received 68 discrimination complaints, down 15.0 percent from the total of 80 filed in 2013.
Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590; by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511; or on the web at www.dot.gov/airconsumer.
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.dot.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-consumer-reports.
AIR TRAVEL CONSUMER REPORT
KEY DECEMBER 2014 ON-TIME PERFORMANCE AND FLIGHT CANCELLATION STATISTICS
Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 14 Reporting Carriers and Tarmac Data Filed by All Carriers
75.3 percent on-time arrivals
Highest On-Time Arrival Rates
- Delta Air Lines – 88.9 percent
- Hawaiian Airlines – 87.9 percent
- AirTran Airways – 87.3 percent
Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates
- Envoy Air – 63.1 percent
- SkyWest Airlines – 67.2 percent
- Frontier Airlines – 67.8 percent
Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours
* There were no domestic flights in December with tarmac delays exceeding three hours.
International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours
* There were no international flights in December with tarmac delays exceeding four hours.
Highest Rates of Canceled Flights
- SkyWest Airlines – 4.9 percent
- Envoy Air – 4.7 percent
- ExpressJet Airlines – 1.6 percent
Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights
- Delta Air Lines – 0.1 percent
- Hawaiian Airlines – 0.3 percent
- AirTran Airways – 0.4 percent