US Airlines Set Record Lows for Both Cancellations and Lost Baggage

Jan 18, 2017

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US airlines broke two records in November 2016. And, for once, both are great news for travelers!

In November, US air carriers canceled just 0.29% of scheduled domestic flights. That’s just 29 flights canceled out of every 10,000 scheduled flights. This is the lowest rate since the Bureau of Transportation Statistics began tracking this data in January 1995. The previous record — just set in September 2016 — was a cancellation rate of just 0.33%.

Delta led the way in November with a rounded-off cancellation rate of 0.0%. Unlike in September, when Delta canceled just 10 flights all month, the BTS didn’t note exactly how few cancellations Delta had. Alaska Airlines and Frontier tied for second place with a 0.1% cancellation rate. Meanwhile, regional airlines ExpressJet Airlines (0.9%) and SkyWest Airlines (0.7%) raised the average, but both still posted solid performance when you consider the industry average was 1.0% in November 2015.

998 out of 1,000 passengers collected their bags at baggage claim in November. Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Meanwhile, airlines also set an impressive record for “mishandled” baggage in November, with just 2.02 delayed baggage reports per 1,000 passengers. Again, this is the best record since the BTS started tracking comparable data, which started in 1987 for baggage data. November’s record just beats the old record — set just a month prior — of 2.06 reports per 1,000 passengers.

While it’s more rare than ever to have your flight canceled or your bag lost, there are still plenty of flight delays. Despite posting a great on-time rate for November, still 13.5% of flights were delayed more than 15 minutes. So, it still makes sense to book with a credit card that offers these travel insurance protections — especially if that card also gives you a solid return on your spend. Cards that fit the bill are the Citi Prestige Card (5x on air travel, $500/ticket for 3+ hour trip and baggage delays), Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on travel purchases with excellent travel insurance benefits) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel purchases with great travel insurance benefits).

Bottom Line

While there are still plenty of annoyances with air travel, thankfully canceled flights and lost luggage are two that are definitely on the decline. And, the US air carriers’ safety record is spectacular. We congratulate the airlines on these new records and hope that the airlines will keep up the excellent operational performance.

Featured image courtesy of Joe Raedle of Getty Images.

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