The U.S. Department of Transportation’s annual performance review of the airline industry is out, showing more canceled flights and slightly more delays last year over 2018.
In reliability, Delta Air Lines led the big airlines in 2019, with 83.5% of flights arriving on time; Hawaiian Airlines was the most punctual of all airlines, with 87.7% of trips on schedule, but given its location and the fact it only serves 29 airports – most of them in the Pacific or the western U.S. – it always scores far better than the rest of the domestic pack. Alaska Airlines, Southwest and Spirit Airlines rounded out the top five, with 81.3%, 80.2% and 79.5% of flights arriving on time respectively.
For the industry overall, 79% of flights arrived on schedule last year, just below the previous year’s results. Frontier was the most delayed airline, with 73.1% of flights on time; JetBlue took second-to-worst place with 73.5%.
Last year, 1.9% of flights were canceled, which is up from 1.1% four years ago. But 2019 results were skewed by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, which most directly affected American, Southwest and United.
And more passengers were bumped, according to the statistics; last year, airlines reported 20,000 “involuntary denied boardings,” a rate of 0.24 per 10,000 passengers, versus a rate of 0.14 per 10,000 passengers in 2018. But much of last year’s denied boardings occurred on American, due, in part, to operational issues as well as the MAX grounding. In fact, Delta and Hawaiian airlines reported no bumpings, and United and JetBlue reported only a tiny fraction of their passengers were denied boarding.
U.S. airlines also had more complaints lodged against them, with 9,547 gripes filed in 2019 compared with 8,876 in 2018. Nearly half of all complaints fell in the category of “flight problems.”
In baggage, more than 2.9 million bags were delayed, lost, damaged or stolen – but that’s out of 507 million bags checked.