Air Travel News
Airlines turn in record operating performance so far in 2012
Yes, airplanes may be more crowded these days, and the airport security experience largely remains a hassle, but the actual operation of flights in a timely and efficient manner is the best ever this year, according to the latest government data.
The Transportation Department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported last week that U.S. airlines' on-time performance, flight cancellation rates, and baggage delivery all set new records for the first six months of 2012.
BTS said that for the 15 largest U.S. carriers, 83.7 percent of their flights arrived on time during January-June, the best six-month performance ever during the 18 years that the government has been keeping statistics. That figure breaks the previous six-month on-time arrivals record of 82.8 percent in January-June of 2003.
The chance of your flight being canceled during the first half of this year was a slender 1.1 percent, BTS said — another performance record. That tops the 1.3 percent flight cancellation rate set during January-June 2002.
And travelers don't have to worry much about not finding their checked bag on the carousel, BTS reported: During January-June 2012, the rate of lost or mishandled baggage was 2.97 incidents per 1,000 passengers, another all-time record and a big improvement from the previous record of 3.60 per 1,000 during January-June 2011. No doubt this is partly due to widespread airline checked baggage fees motivating more passengers to carry everything on, but the government does not keep records on how many bags are checked.
In addition, BTS said the government's 2010 regulation that bars airlines from keeping passengers aboard a plane stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours has led to a drastic decline in such incidents. Tarmac delays only occurred four times during January-June 2012, BTS said. In January-June 2009, before the rule took effect, there were 586 such delays.
In June 2012, BTS said, Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time arrival rate at 93.9 percent, followed by Alaska Airlines (88.4 percent) and Mesa Airlines (87.0 percent). The worst on-time arrival rate for June was at United Airlines (70.1 percent).