Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Airlines Post Best December On-Time Record, Lowest December Cancellation Rate in 17 Years
No Tarmac Delays Longer than Three Hours on Domestic Flights or Four Hours on International Flights in December
The nation’s largest airlines posted an on-time arrival record last December of 84.4 percent, the highest on-time percentage for any December during the 17 years the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has collected comparable flight delay data. According to DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report, the carriers also had a 0.8 percent rate of canceled flights, the lowest December cancellation rate for the last 17 years.
The December on-time rate posted by the 16 reporting carriers was up from the 72.0 percent rate of December 2010, but down slightly from November 2011’s 85.3 percent, according to data filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). The carriers’ on-time percentage for all of 2011 was 79.6 percent, compared to 79.8 percent in 2010.
December’s 0.8 percent cancellation rate was down from December 2010’s 3.7 percent rate but up from November 2011’s 0.7 percent.
Airlines also reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights or more than four hours on international flights in December. The larger U.S. airlines have been required to report long tarmac delays on their domestic flights since October 2008. Under a new rule that took effect Aug. 23, 2011, all U.S. and foreign airlines operating at least one aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats must report lengthy tarmac delays at U.S. airports. Also beginning Aug. 23, carriers operating international flights may not allow tarmac delays at U.S. airports to last longer than four hours. There is a separate three-hour limit on tarmac delays involving domestic flights, which went into effect in April 2010. Exceptions to the time limits for both domestic and international flights are allowed only for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons.
The monthly Air Travel Consumer Report also includes data on chronically delayed flights and the causes of flight delays filed with BTS by the reporting carriers. In addition, the report contains information on airline bumping, reports of mishandled baggage filed by consumers with the carriers and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. This report also includes reports of incidents involving pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers. Calendar year 2011 data are contained in the report in a number of areas as well as data for December 2011.
A news release on the report is available at http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2012/dot2412.html. The full report is available at http://airconsumer.dot.gov/reports/index.htm. Detailed information on flight delays is available at http://www.bts.gov.