US Airlines Had a Record Year in 2016 — in a Good Way

Feb 15, 2017

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Believe it or not, 2016 was a good year to travel in the US. The Department of Transportation released its findings for US airlines from the year, and the results show that there were fewer cancellations, mishandled bags and passenger bumps than in the year prior.

In fact, 2016 was such a good year for US airlines that there was the fewest amount of canceled domestic flights since the DOT began recording data. Reporting carriers canceled 1.17% of their scheduled domestic flights, which was down from 1.5% in 2015.

But the good news didn’t only come from the number of canceled flights. US airlines also improved in the rate of mishandled baggage (down from 3.13 per 1,000 passengers in 2015 to 2.70) and bumping rate (down from 0.73 per 10,000 passengers in 2015 to 0.62).

The consumer report released by the DOT also included data on on-time performance. In all, based on data from the entire year, here’s (PDF) how the 12 reporting US carriers fared in 2016 for on-time arrivals:

1. Hawaiian Airlines — 91.1% of flights on time
2. Alaska Airlines — 87.3%
3. Delta Air Lines — 86.5%
4. SkyWest Airlines — 82.3%
5. United Airlines — 81.7%
6. Southwest Airlines — 80.8%
7. ExpressJet Airlines — 79.8%
8. American Airlines — 79.4%
9. Virgin America — 76.2%
10. Frontier Airlines — 76.0%
11. JetBlue Airways — 75.0%
12. Spirit Airlines — 74.3%

Hawaiian was the clear winner for the year in on-time performance, with Spirit bringing up the rear, coming in 16.8 percentage points behind the top spot. The DOT considers a flight to be on time if it lands less than 15 minutes after the scheduled arrival time.

To read the full findings of the DOT’s report, including incidents involving animals and complaints about discrimination, go to the agency’s website. In all, the findings were generally positive — a nice change for flyers who are constantly made aware of US carriers’ sub-par offerings. We can only hope the US carriers continue to improve in their performance for 2017 — we’re especially looking at you, Spirit!

Featured image courtesy of Greg Bajor via Getty Images.

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