Summer travel season ends on a high note for air travelers
Thursday, October 11, 2012
No matter where in the world travelers are headed, there is always the hope that their flights will depart on schedule so they can check into their serviced apartments at a decent hour. While airplanes are still subject to delays, the U.S. Department of Transportation has taken steps in recent years to ensure that passengers are not stuck on tarmacs for hours on end.
The department's efforts, which include huge fines for any airline that keeps passengers grounded for more than three hours, appear to be working, as the summer travel season ended with no lengthy tarmac delays for domestic flights.
A good month for air travelers
The department recently announced that in August, no domestic airline passengers fell victim to tarmac delays lasting more than three hours. For international travelers, the only delay came in the form of an August 15 Caribbean Airlines flight that remained on the tarmac at New York's JFK International Airport for a total of four hours and 28 minutes.
Robert Mann, an airline industry analyst from R.W. Mann and Co., told USA Today that the improved travel conditions were no coincidence.
"Fewer flights and generally good weather meant fewer delays," Mann said. "Fewer delayed flights meant fewer mis-connected bags. Operationally, it's all good."
August's highest and lowest performers
Overall, 79.1 percent of reporting U.S. airlines saw their flights arrive on time. Hawaiian Airlines proved to be the month's top performer with an on-time arrival rate of 92.8 percent. Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines also did well, with rates of 89.3 percent and 83.9 percent, respectively.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, United Airlines performed the worst with only 72.2 percent of their flights arriving on time. ExpressJet Airlines and JetBlue Airways also encountered problems in August, as 73.7 percent and 74 percent of their flights managed to arrive on schedule.
A definite improvement
There is no denying that August's numbers are a significant improvement over what airline passengers encountered in July. While the number of tarmac delays for international flights remained unchanged, there were a total of 18 domestic airplanes sitting on tarmacs for more than three hours in July. However, it should be noted that 16 of these aircraft were victim to severe storms that gripped Chicago O'Hare Airport on July 13.