November was the second month in a row that the nation’s largest airlines reported no flights with tarmac delays of more than three hours, while the carriers reported only a slight increase in the rate of canceled flights during the month, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). This past October and November were the only months with no tarmac delays of more than three hours by the reporting carriers since the department began collecting more comprehensive tarmac delay data in October 2008, the DOT said.
Data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) showed a total of only 12 tarmac delays of more than three hours reported from May through November 2010 by the 18 airlines that file on-time performance data with DOT, compared to 550 during the same seven-month period of 2009. November was the seventh full month of data since the new aviation consumer rule went into effect on April 29, 2010. BTS is a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).
The largest carriers canceled 0.7 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in November, up from the 0.5 percent cancellation rate of November 2009. They posted a 0.97 percent cancellation rate in October 2010. The number of canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours increased only slightly, from 224 between May and November 2009 to 241 between May and November 2010. There were 11 canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours in November 2010, up from zero in November 2009.
The new tarmac delay rule prohibits U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations. The department will investigate tarmac delays that exceed this limit.
The monthly report also includes data on on-time performance, chronically delayed flights, flight cancellations and the causes of flight delays filed with the department by the reporting carriers. In addition, it has information on reports of mishandled baggage filed by consumers with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. This report also includes reports of incidents involving pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.
The reporting carriers recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 83.2 percent in November, down from both the 88.6 percent on-time rate of November 2009 and October 2010’s 83.8 percent.
At the end of November, there was only one flight that was chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months. There were no flights chronically delayed for three consecutive months or more. A list of flights that were chronically delayed for a single month is available from BTS.