Airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, but one tarmac delay of more than four hours on an international flight in March, according to the latest U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report.
The long tarmac delay involved Avianca Flight 28 from Bogotá, Colombia to Orlando, Fla., on March 24. After being diverted to Miami, it was delayed on the tarmac 301 minutes, or just over four hours. That delay is now under investigation by the DOT.
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. There is a separate three-hour limit on tarmac delays involving domestic flights, which went into effect in April 2010.
Exceptions to the time limits for both domestic and international flights are allowed only for safety, security, or air traffic control-related reasons. Severe weather could cause or exacerbate such situations.
Here are some of the other highlights of the DOT report:
The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 79.8 percent in March, down from March 2012’s 82.2 percent mark, but up from February 2013’s 79.6 percent.
Airlines with the best on-time arrival rates were Hawaiian (91 percent), Virgin America (87.3 percent) and Alaska Airlines (85.5 percent).
Those with the worst on-time arrival rates were ExpressJet Airlines (71.6 percent), JetBlue Airways (71.6 percent) and Frontier Airlines (74 percent).
The reporting carriers canceled 1.6 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in March, up from the 1.0 percent cancellation rate posted in March 2012, but down from the 2.4 percent rate posted in February 2013.
The highest rates of canceled flights were as follows: ExpressJet Airlines (3.3 percent); Mesa Airlines (2.8 percent) and Pinnacle Airlines (2.5 percent).
Hawaiian, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines had the least cancellations for the month.
Chronically Delayed Flights
At the end of March, there were eight flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months. There were no chronically delayed flights for three consecutive months or more. A list of flights that were chronically delayed for a single month is available here:
Causes of Flight Delays
In March, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 5.91 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 5.85 percent in February; 6.95 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.40 percent in February; 5.05 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.96 percent in February; 0.47 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.56 percent in February; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.03 percent in February.
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 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 March, 34.12 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, down 3.53 percent from March 2012, when 35.37 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and down 7.68 percent from February when 36.96 percent of late flights were delayed by weather.
Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available at http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts.
The U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.05 reports per 1,000 passengers in March, down from March 2012’s rate of 3.09, but up from February 2013’s rate of 3.00.
For the first quarter of this year, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.15 reports per 1,000 passengers, up from the 3.01 rate for the first quarter of 2012.
The report also includes airline reports of involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, for the first quarter of this year.
The 16 U.S. carriers who report on-time performance and mishandled baggage data posted a bumping rate of 1.06 per 10,000 passengers for the quarter, up from the 0.91 rate reported for the first quarter of 2012.
Incidents Involving Pets
In March, carriers reported no incidents involving the loss, death, or injury of pets while traveling by air, down from both the nine reports filed in March 2012 and the four reports filed in February 2013.
Complaints About Airline Service
In March, DOT received 943 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 15.6 percent from the 1,117 complaints filed in March 2012, and up 4.9 percent from the 899 received in February 2013.
For the first quarter of this year, DOT received 3,213 complaints, up 17.1 percent from the 2,744 filed during the first quarter of 2012.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in March against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.
The department received a total of 42 disability-related complaints in March, down from the total of 48 complaints filed in March 2012, but up from the total of 38 complaints received in February 2013.
For the first quarter of this year, the Department received 136 disability-related complaints, up from the total of 129 filed during the first quarter of 2012.
Complaints About Discrimination
In March, DOT received seven complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin, or sex – up from both the total of four recorded in March 2012 and the five recorded in February 2013.
For the first quarter of this year, the department received 18 discrimination complaints, equal to the total of 18 filed during the first quarter of 2012.
The full Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOT’s World Wide Web site at http://www.dot.gov/individuals/air-consumer/air-travel-consumer-reports.