Fewest Lost Bags Ever and Great On-Time Rates but Complaints Against Airlines Rise

The latest numbers from the government’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics are in and it’s a mixed bag for the airlines: more planes are arriving when they’re supposed to plus fewer bags are being lost but, despite the good news, complaints are on the rise.

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Best ‘Mishandled’ Baggage Rate Ever

These new statistics cover the month of April 2012, and the best news is on the baggage front: the rate of mishandled bags for April was just 2.63 reports per 1,000 passengers. That is the lowest rate ever for any month since the BTS began collecting this data back in 1989.

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Best and Worst Airlines for On-Time Arrivals

April statistics also show the overall on-time arrival rate for U.S. airlines was 86.3 percent, which handily beats April 2011’s 75.5 percent.

The top five U.S. airlines with the best on-time arrival rates in April:

  1. Hawaiian – 94.4 percent of flights on-time
  2. AirTran – 94 percent of flights on-time
  3. Delta – 90.9 percent of flights on-time
  4. Alaska – 90.6 percent of flights on-time (tie)
  5. US Airways – 90.6 percent of flights on-time (tie)

These five airlines had the worst on-time records overall for April:

  1. American – 81.4 percent of flights on-time
  2. United – 81.6 percent of flights on-time
  3. ExpressJet – 82.6 percent of flights on-time
  4. Frontier – 82.7 percent of flights on-time
  5. American Eagle – 84.8 percent of flights on-time

See how the airlines performed in the previous month

Best Time of Day to Fly

The BTS data broke down the flight time arrivals during various times of day, and passengers hoping to get where they’re going when they’re supposed to would be advised to fly in the morning, especially between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.. After that, on-time performance on many airlines begins to degrade.

Airlines with Most Passenger Complaints

The BTS statistics also tallied passenger complaints, though these figures only cover complaints filed with the Department of Transportation and do not include safety or security problems. The categories with the most complaints involved flight delays and cancelations, and reservation and ticketing difficulties. There were 865 complaints for all airlines in April 2012, compared with 745 for April of 2011. Airlines with the most complaints:

  • United – 289 complaints
  • American – 113 complaints
  • Delta – 88 complaints

Like the month before, United again had the dubious honor of ranking number one – but its ongoing computer glitches may account for at least some of the complaints.


Published: June 14, 2012