This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

UPDATE 12/1/2017: As noted by Paul Jeon in the comment section below, Delta did cancel at least one flight during the period that it claims it was “cancel-free”. Click here to see the airline’s explanation and our anaylsis.

What follows is the original, unedited post published before this misstatement was revealed.


For those not in the know, Delta runs an amazing operation. The airline regularly ends up in the top of the Department of Transportation’s monthly reports for on-time percentage and lowest percentage of cancelled flights.

There are months when Delta has only cancelled 10 flights, which registered on the DOT report as a 0.0% cancellation rate. Meanwhile, other carriers have had more than 10 “chronically delayed” flights some months. (The only exception, of course, is when Delta’s operations periodically go into a tailspin.)

Well, Thanksgiving was no exception to the Atlanta-based carrier’s impressive operation. When comparing Delta vs. American Airlines vs. United operational performance over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Delta difference is stark. Delta didn’t cancel a single flight across five crucial Thanksgiving travel days (Wednesday-Sunday), adding to its “11-day streak without a mainline or Delta Connection regional flight cancellation“.

Meanwhile, American Airlines settled for bragging about not cancelling a single mainline flight over three days out of a 10-day period (November 17-26). United boasted that it only cancelled 0.4% flights with three cancel-free days across an 8-day period (November 19-26).

In a graphic about Thanksgiving travel, American Airlines focused on the massive scope of its operations —  the largest in the world. Over the 10-day holiday period, the airline carried 5.5 million passengers on 55,463 flights with over 4 million bags checked. Averaged across the 10 days, that’s 550,000 passengers and 5,546 flights per day.

Comparatively, Delta flew 2.35 million passengers and “nearly 23,000” flights across the heart of the Thanksgiving holiday (Wednesday-Sunday), averaging 470,000 passengers over nearly 4,600 flights each day. The key difference: Delta didn’t cancel a single flight across the five days and operated an impressive 92.7% on-time clip those days. For reference, in November 2016, the airline operated at an 91.4% on-time rate.

As the fourth-largest US airline by passengers carried, United focused on operational performance rather than passenger or flight stats. The airline set “an all-time company record for on-time departures” on Thanksgiving with a 89.1% on-time rate. Then Friday, it set a new high watermark with a 89.8% on-time performance. Based on it’s own stats, United’s best two days ever still fall percentage points short of Delta’s average for the five-day Thanksgiving period — and most months of Delta operations.

While Delta’s SkyMiles are a constant source of frustration due to the frequent devaluations, Delta’s operational performance clearly sets the airline apart from its competitors.

Featured image by Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

LIMITED TIME OFFER. Aside from the 100,000 points welcome bonus (available until 8/8/18), Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 & an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 8/8/18.†
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
  • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$450
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.