Airlines report fewer delays, cancellations; complaints fall

Airlines cancelled and delayed fewer flights in March and consumer complaints were down.

The Department of Transportation said Monday that 81.5 per cent of flights on the main airlines arrived on time during March, up from 78.7 per cent in March 2015. Hawaiian Airlines was the best performer, while Spirit Airlines finished last.

About 1 per cent of flights were cancelled during the month, an improvement from 2.2 per cent a year earlier.

The figures don’t include more recent periods, in which thousands of passengers have missed their flights because they were stuck in long security-checkpoint lines.

The report covers the 12 largest U.S. airlines.

Flights on Hawaiian, which routinely operate in good weather, arrived on time 89.9 per cent of the time. Delta Air Lines was second-best at 87.9 per cent.

Budget carrier Spirit arrived on time just 64.6 per cent of the time, followed by Virgin America at 73.8 per cent. Another discount airline, Frontier, had the highest cancellation rate, while Delta and Hawaiian cancelled the fewest flights.

The government said that it got 1,055 consumer complaints about U.S. airlines, down from 1,378 in March 2015. That reversed a trend of rising complaint rates earlier this year but was still a tiny fraction of the roughly 60 million people who boarded planes.

ExpressJet, which operates regional flights for bigger carriers, had the lowest complaint rate while Spirit had the highest.

There were also fewer reports of mishandled bags and of passengers being bumped from flights than a year earlier.



The Department of Transportation report: