Flight Delays Increase Slightly in July
Tuesday, September 2, 2003 -- The nation's larger airlines experienced a slight increase in flight delays in July compared to the previous month, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
The monthly report also includes data on flight cancellations and consumer disability, discrimination and service complaints received by the department's Aviation Consumer Protection Division, as well as reports of mishandled baggage filed with the carriers.
According to information filed with the department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the 17 carriers reporting on-time performance posted a 79.7 percent on-time arrival record in July, down from June's 82.4 percent rate. SkyWest Airlines had the highest on-time rate in July at 91.6 percent, followed by JetBlue Airways in second place at 88.5 and Southwest Airlines third at 84.0. Atlantic Southeast Airlines had the lowest percentage of on-time flights at 65.1 percent, with AirTran Airways ranked 16th at 72.5 percent and US Airways 15th at 73.7 percent.
The report contains a list of regularly scheduled flights that were late at least 80 percent of the time. In July, 16 flights were included on this list, 14 of them operated by Atlantic Southeast. The five most frequently delayed flights, all by Atlantic Southeast, were flight 4193 from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach, SC, late 93.55 percent of the time; flight 4780 from Indianapolis to Atlanta, late 87.10 of the time; and three flights all late 86.67 percent of the time - 4212 from Atlanta to Panama City, FL; 4843 from Atlanta to Gainesville, FL; and 4318 from Newport News, VA, to Atlanta.
The report contains a note reminding consumers that flight delays can be caused by a variety of factors. The carriers that report on-time flight information have been required to also report the causes of delays and cancellations beginning with June's data. Once the Transportation Security Administration, DOT's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and BTS complete testing and validating this causal information to ensure its accuracy, the data will be included in the Air Travel Consumer Report.
These official on-time data are distinct from the data compiled by the FAA, which records delays while aircraft are under control of the air traffic control system (i.e., from actual gate pushback time to actual gate arrival time). FAA data cover some of the delays caused by weather and volume, for example, but do not cover delays at the gate such as those caused by aircraft mechanical problems, crew unavailability or many weather conditions affecting flights before they depart. The FAA data are useful for managing the air traffic control system but are not designed to measure airline passenger delays.
The consumer report also includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In July, the carriers canceled 1.4 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, up from June's 0.8 percent cancellation rate. Atlantic Coast Airlines had the highest percentage of canceled flights in July at 4.7 percent, followed by American Eagle Airlines at 3.1 percent and Atlantic Southeast at 2.9. JetBlue had the lowest percentage of cancellations, with no flights canceled in July, followed by Continental Airlines at 0.3 percent and Southwest at 0.6 percent.
The 17 U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.37 reports per 1,000 passengers in July, slightly higher than June's 4.22 rate.
Complaints About Airline Service
In July, consumers filed 616 complaints about airline service with the department, 40.3 percent fewer than the 1,031 complaints received in July 2002 but 22.2 percent more than the total of 504 received in June 2003.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in July against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The department received a total of 35 disability-related complaints in July, 23.9 percent fewer than the total of 46 filed in July 2002 but 20.7 percent more than the 29 recorded in June 2003.
Complaints About Discrimination
In July, the department received 12 complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability - such as race, religion, national origin or sex - slightly fewer than the total of 13 recorded in July 2002 but more than the total of seven received in June 2003.
Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, 400 7th St., S.W., Room 4107, Washington, DC 20590, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511.
The department reminds consumers who want on-time performance data for specific flights to call their airline ticket offices or their travel agents. This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents. Detailed flight delay information is also available on the BTS site on the World Wide Web at http://www.bts.gov.
The Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOT's World Wide Web site at http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov. It is available in "pdf" and Microsoft Word format.