Airlines continue to do a good job of keeping long tarmac delays at a minimum.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), carriers reported just two tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, but no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights during January.
The long domestic tarmac delays took place on January 27 -- one on a flight departing Chicago O’Hare Airport and the other on a flight diverted to Bullhead City, Ariz. DOT is investigating both.
The larger U.S. airlines have been required to file complete reports on their long tarmac delays for domestic flights since October 2008. Under a 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, 2011, carriers operating international flights may not allow tarmac delays at U.S. airports to last longer than four hours without giving passengers an opportunity to deplane. Exceptions to the time limits for both domestic and international flights are allowed only for safety, security, or air traffic control-related reasons.
Other areas covered by the report include:
- The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 81.0% in January, compared with January 2012’s 83.7% mark and December 2012’s 76.6%.
- The reporting carriers canceled 1.5% of their scheduled domestic flights in January, the same as January 2012, and down 0.1% from the rate in December 2012.
Chronically delayed flights
- At the end of January, there were 12 flights that were chronically delayed -- more than 30 minutes late more than 50% of the time -- for two consecutive months. There were no chronically delayed flights for three consecutive months or more.
Causes of Flight Delays
- In January, the carriers reported that 5.73% of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared with 6.19% in December; 6.02% by late-arriving aircraft, versus 8.55% in December; 4.98% by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared with 6.21% in December; 0.55% by extreme weather, versus 0.59% in December; and 0.04% for security reasons, compared with 0.05% in December. 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 DOT’s 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 the Bureau of Transportation Statistics also shows the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In January, 34.12% of late flights were delayed by weather, down 3.78% from January 2012, when 35.46% of late flights were delayed by weather, and up 3.99% from December when 32.81% of late flights were delayed by weather.
- The carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.41 reports per 1,000 passengers in January, compared with January 2012’s rate of 3.30 and December 2012’s rate of 4.15.
Incidents involving pets
- In January, carriers reported three incidents involving the loss, death or injury of pets while traveling by air. In January 2012, there were eight reports, five reports were filed in December 2012. January’s incidents involved three pet deaths.
Complaints about airline service
- In January, DOT received 1,368 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 46.3% from the 935 complaints filed in January 2012, and up 51.8% from the 901 received in December 2012.
Complaints about treatment of disabled passengers
- The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in January against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. There was a total of 56 disability-related complaints in January, compared with 41 complaints in January 2012 and 35 in December 2012.
Complaints about discrimination
- In January, there were six complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability -- such as race, religion, national origin or sex --- four fewer than in January 2012, but three more than December 2012.
Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590; by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511; or on the Web .