Government says airline flights ran late more often in January than a year ago

WASHINGTON – Your flight was more likely to be late in January than a year ago mostly because of poorer performance at several smaller airlines.

The government said Tuesday that 81 per cent of flights arrived within 14 minutes of schedule during January. That’s down from 83.7 per cent in the same month last year, although it’s better than in December.

Virgin America had the best on-time rating, 93.1 per cent, knocking frequent leader Hawaiian Airlines to second place.

Frontier Airlines, ExpressJet and American Eagle got the worst marks. All three scored at least 6 points worse than they did a year ago.

Among the five largest U.S. airlines, Delta had the best on-time record, followed by Southwest, US Airways, United and American. Delta and United improved from a year earlier; the others got worse.

Among large airports, Newark (N.J) Liberty International Airport had the worst record for on-time arrivals, at 73.2 per cent. The best on-time ratings were Las Vegas, 86.9 per cent, and Phoenix, 86.7 per cent.

The figures were reported by the Department of Transportation.

Two domestic flights were stuck on the ground longer than three hours, which can expose the airline to fines. Both occurred Jan. 27. One was operated by Chautauqua Airlines at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, and the other was a Spirit Airlines flight to Las Vegas that was diverted to Bowhead City, Ariz. The department said it was investigating both incidents.

About 1.5 per cent of all scheduled U.S. flights were cancelled, the same as in January 2012.

The government said there were 3.4 reports of baggage being late, damaged or lost for every 1,000 passengers, up slightly from 3.3 a year earlier.

American Eagle, the regional affiliate of American Airlines, had the highest rate of mishandled bags — it’s held that distinction for the last three years. Virgin America had the best rate.

Consumer complaints jumped 46 per cent, but few passengers bothered to file a formal complaint with the government — 1,368, up from 935 a year ago, yet a tiny fraction of all travellers.

Southwest and Alaska Airlines had the lowest complaint rates; Frontier had far and away the highest rate of complaints, followed by United, American and American Eagle.


The government’s full report can be found here: