Airlines: Did Bigger Profits Lead to Fewer Complaints, More On-time Flights?

Business has been good for the airlines; last year’s profits were record-breakers. For passengers, that’s brought some good news, too.

LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney says, it’s about time.

Airlines: Fewer Complaints

In recent months, some passengers have been getting free snacks and even free entertainment. We do know some carriers have been putting some of their profits into such niceties (plus revamped clubs and new aircraft) so perhaps travelers are feeling more optimistic about air travel. They’re complaining less, anyway. According to the latest U.S. government statistics for April complaints dropped more than 20% from the month before, and there was a similar drop in complaints from April 2015. For those keeping score, the complaint numbers:

  • April 2016: 1,122
  • March 2016: 1,429
  • April 2015: 1,419

Presumably, things have gotten better – or people just got tired of complaining – but that strikes us as unlikely.

Airlines: More On-Time Flights

There were no lengthy tarmac delays (three hours or more) reported on domestic flights in April nor were there reports of chronically delayed flights (flights leaving 30 minute late, more than half the time).

As for the overall on-time arrival rate, it was up over March statistics and up from April of a year ago.

  • April 2016: 84.5%
  • March 2016: 81.8%
  • April 2015: 81.5%

Best and Worst Airlines: On-Time Flights

Some new and old names in the best and worst lists for April of this year.

Highest on-time arrival rates

  1. Hawaiian
  2. Delta
  3. Alaska

Worst on-time arrival rates

  1. Spirit
  2. Virgin America
  3. JetBlue

Airlines: Most Canceled Flights

The rate of canceled flights for all three of these worst offenders in April was under 2%, but it’s worth noting.

  1. Spirit
  2. ExpressJet
  3. United

Find more details including lost baggage rates and problems with pet transport at the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.


Updated: June 15, 2016