U.S. Airlines Post Best On-Time Record in 17 Years

The airlines ended 2011 with a bang by reporting the best on-time arrival record for the past 17 years. These statistics covered the month of December.

The 17-year period represents the entire time the Department of Transportation began keeping complete tabs on such information (records had been kept prior to this, but 1995 was the year the DOT first began including mechanical-sourced delays in their statistics).

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On-Time and No Long Tarmac Delays

More good news for passengers: December 2011 also marked a month with no tarmac-delayed planes of 3 hours or more – and no long delays for international carriers, either.

Airfare analyst Rick Seaney pegs some of the improvement on the fact that airlines have been cutting capacity in recent years: “It’s sort of like having toll roads with 90% of the previous traffic,” he said. “You are going to have fewer traffic jams.”

Still, there were plenty of delayed flights, and here are the top three worst airline offenders for December:

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Airlines with Worst On-Time Arrival Rates

In case you were wondering, number one is worst.

  1. Frontier Airlines
  2. ExpressJet
  3. Continental Airlines

Airlines with Best On-Time Arrival Rates

In this list, number one is best.

  1. AirTran Airways
  2. Hawaiian Airlines
  3. Delta Air Lines

Kudos to AirTran for dislodging Hawaiian from its usual perch in the No. 1 position.

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Published: February 14, 2012