Delta Air Lines is the most on-time airline in North America

Jan 2, 2020

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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

New data shows Delta Air Lines is the most on-time airline in all of North America. Cirium just released its on-time performance numbers for 2019. Delta was also the number No. 3 worldwide according to the travel and data analytics company, which released its findings on Thursday. As we previously reported, Aeroflot was the most punctual in the world.

On Time list for North American Airlines. Data graphic courtesy: Cirium
On-time list for North American Airlines. Data graphic courtesy: Cirium


Cirium releases the report every year, and shares the world’s best performing airlines and airports for on time ratings. We’ll share the airports data soon. Across all 10 network airlines in North America, performance improved by 1% year over year with an average on-time performance of 79.93%.

Alaska Airlines also performed well in the annual review, placing second. Delta has now taken top honors the past three years in a row. Rounding out the top five were No. 3 Southwest (more than 81.32% on-time), No. 4 Spirit (81.19%) and American (79.89%). American’s numbers came  despite a dispute with mechanics that the airline says created widespread operational issues.

Cirium analysts wrote, “Southwest Airlines is another worthy runner-up, having finished in third place despite overcoming challenges with recent maintenance delays in the first half of the year, as well as the impact of the 737 MAX groundings.”

Overall, Southwest Airlines, Allegiant Air, WestJet, JetBlue and Frontier all improved on-time performance from 2018.

Cirium also pointed out that ninth-ranked JetBlue improved its performance slightly this year.


Graphic courtesy: Cirium
On-time data for mainline global airlines. Graphic courtesy: Cirium


Delta Air Lines also took third place in the “global mainline” category with 85.7% of flights arriving on time.

Jeremy Bowen, Cirium CEO, said: “Airlines and airports which consistently operate on time and go that extra mile for their customers deserve to be recognized in an increasingly competitive environment and should be justifiably proud of reaching such a world-class industry standard.”

New Delta partner, Latin American airline LATAM was the top ranking airline in the category of “global network airline” with 86.7% of the flights in its network arriving on time. ANA was No. 2 with 86.5% of its flights on time. Delta was number in this category as well followed closely by Japan Airlines and Iberia. 

On Time data graphic courtesy: Cirium
On-time data for global network airlines. Data graphic courtesy: Cirium


Cirium analyzed 600 sources and more than 100,000 flights a day to compile the ratings.

A timely reminder from Cirium — time is money.

Photo illustration courtesy Cirium.
Photo illustration courtesy Cirium.


And TPG reporter Victoria Walker reminds us that many of the top travel rewards credit cards offer some form of trip delay or trip cancellation/interruption coverage.
For instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers up to $500 for reasonable expenses if your flight is delayed more than six hours or requires an overnight stay. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers up to $500 if you’re delayed longer than 12 hours.
American Express recently added trip delay insurance, which covers round-trip flights purchased entirely with an eligible card. If your trip is delayed by more than six hours due to a covered reason, this perk will reimburse unexpected expenses — such as meals, lodging and personal-use items — up to $500 per trip with the following cards:

The information for the American Express Corporate Platinum card and Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

And, if your trip is delayed more than 12 hours due to a covered reason, you’ll be eligible for expense reimbursement of up to $300 with these cards:

The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Additional reporting by Victoria Walker.

Featured image courtesy Clint Henderson/The Points Guy


The All-New United Quest℠ Card

WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.