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On-Time Performance Up from Previous Year, December 2014

Monday, March 16, 2015


WASHINGTON – The nation’s largest airlines posted an on-time arrival rate of 76.8 percent in January, up from both the 67.7 percent on-time rate in January 2014 and the 75.3 percent mark in December 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report released today.

In addition, the reporting carriers canceled 2.5 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in January, an improvement over the 6.5 percent cancellation rate posted in January 2014, but up from the 1.4 percent rate in December 2014.

January marks the first month in which Spirit Airlines was required to report on-time performance and mishandled baggage data to the Department.  It becomes a ranked carrier in those sections of the report.  Additionally, AirTran Airways no longer appears as a ranked carrier in the report as result of the completion of its merger with Southwest Airlines in December 2014.  American Airlines and US Airways, following their December 2013 merger announcement, will report separately until the Department approves single carrier reporting and a single economic certificate is issued.

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 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 animals traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.

Tarmac Delays

In January, airlines reported five tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights.  Three of the reported tarmac delays involved flights departing from Chicago O’Hare International Airport on January 5 following a snow storm.  All of the reported tarmac delays are under investigation by the Department.

Chronically Delayed Flights

At the end of January, there were eight flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months.  There were no chronically delayed flights for three 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 January, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 6.36 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.99 percent in December; 7.31 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 8.82 percent in December; 6.01 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.82 percent in December; 0.70 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.41 percent in December; and 0.03 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.04 percent in December. 

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 January, 32.84 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from 32.31 percent in December 2014 and from 29.14 percent in January 2014.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available on the BTS site at

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.33 reports per 1,000 passengers in January, down from January 2014’s rate of 5.51, but up from December 2014’s rate of 4.25. 

Incidents Involving Animals

In January, carriers reported three incidents involving the loss, injury, or death of animals while traveling by air, up from the two reports filed in both January 2014 and in December 2014.  January’s incidents involved the death of two animals and one injured animal.  The March report of incidents involving the loss, injury, or death of animals in air transportation is the first such report since the Department’s animal reporting rule was expanded to cover additional airlines and the definition of “animal” was expanded to cover commercially-shipped dogs and cats.

Complaints About Airline Service

In January, the Department received 1,480 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 13.6 percent from the total of 1,713 filed in January 2014, but up 39.5 percent from the 1,061 received in December 2014.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in January against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.  The Department received a total of 53 disability-related complaints in January, down from both the 75 complaints received in January 2014 and the 60 complaints received in December 2014.

Complaints About Discrimination

In January, the Department received six complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin, or sex – down from the total of eight recorded in January 2014, but up from the five recorded in December 2014.

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

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






March 2015


Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 14 Reporting Carriers and Tarmac Data Filed by All Carriers



     76.8 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Delta Air Lines – 86.1 percent
  2. Hawaiian Airlines – 85.5 percent
  3. Alaska Airlines – 84.6 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates 

  1. Envoy Air – 60.4 percent
  2. Frontier Airlines – 67.1 percent
  3. JetBlue Airways – 71. 9 percent

Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours

  1. Southwest Airlines flight 3476 from Atlanta to New Orleans, 1/11/15 – delayed on tarmac 212 minutes in Jackson, Miss.
  2. Southwest Airlines flight 2141 from Dallas Love Field to New Orleans, 1/11/15 – delayed on tarmac 210 minutes in Jackson, Miss.
  3. ExpressJet Airlines flight 3943 from Chicago O’Hare to Kansas City, Mo., 1/5/15 – delayed on tarmac 200 minutes
  4. Alaska Airlines flight 21 from Chicago O’Hare to Seattle, 1/5/15 – delayed on tarmac 198 minutes
  5. US Airways flight 831 from Chicago O’Hare to Charlotte, 1/5/15 – delayed on tarmac 185 minutes

International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours

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

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Envoy Air – 7.7 percent
  2. JetBlue Airways – 5.1 percent
  3. ExpressJet Airlines – 3.4 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.4 percent
  2. Alaska Airlines – 0.5 percent
  3. Delta Air Lines – 1.1 percent



DOT 23-15