US airlines post fewer on-time flights

The U.S.’ largest airlines recorded a lower rate of on-time flights this past February than in either January 2006 or February 2005.This is according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOTs Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 75.3 percent in February, lower than both February 2005s 77.6 percent and January 2006s 78.8 percent.

The monthly report also includes data on flight cancellations and causes of flight delays, as well as information on reports of mishandled baggage filed with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOTs Aviation Consumer Protection Division. The report also includes reports required to be filed by U.S. carriers of incidents involving pets traveling by air.

Cancellations

The consumer report includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In February, the carriers canceled 2.1 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, a higher rate of cancellations than the 1.7 percent rate recorded in both February 2005 and January 2006.

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Causes of Flight Delays

The carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 8.32 percent of their February flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 7.00 percent in January 2006; 6.92 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 5.61 percent in January; 6.08 percent by factors within the airlines control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.81 percent in January; 0.92 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.87 in January; and 0.09 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.04 percent in January.

Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category. This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOTs Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved. Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category.

Data collected by BTS also show the percentage of overall flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In February, 4.79 percent of flights were delayed by weather, down 9.28 percent from February 2005, when 5.28 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and up 1.91 percent from January when 4.70 percent of flights were delayed by weather.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available on the BTS site on the World Wide Web at http://www.bts.gov .

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 6.08 reports per 1,000 passengers in February, fewer than both February 2005s 6.16 rate and January 2006s 6.92 mark.

Incidents Involving Pets

In February, carriers reported only one incident involving pets while traveling by air, down from the total of two reported in January. The February incident involved a pet becoming lost. Carriers first began reporting pet incidents in May 2005.

Complaints About Airline Service

In February, the Department received 549 complaints from consumers about airline service, down 6.5 percent from the 587 complaints received in February 2005 and 33.5 percent fewer than the 826 filed in January 2006.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in February against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 25 disability-related complaints in February, just over half the total of 49 complaints received in February 2005 and 40.5 percent fewer than the 42 complaints filed in January 2006.

Complaints About Discrimination

In February, the Department received five complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability such as race, religion, national origin or sex fewer than the total of 10 complaints received in both February 2005 and January 2006.

Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, Room 4107, 400 7^th St. SW, Washington, DC 20590; by e-mail at [email protected]; by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511.

Consumers who want on-time performance data for specific flights should call their airline ticket offices or their travel agents. This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents.

The Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOTs World Wide Web site at http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov . It is available in pdf and Microsoft Word format.
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