And the most frequently delayed flight in America is...
A tie between (1) Northwest Airlines flight 1266 from Boston to Tampa and (2) Northwest Airlines flight 1554 from West Palm Beach to Boston. Both were late in the month of July late 96.77 percent of the time. Oh come on, try a little harder and be late an even 100 percent. (AP photo.)
I say, blame Northwest Airlines. Or maybe Boston, since the flights have those factors in common. But what gives? The irony is the nation’s largest airlines had an improved rate of on-time flights this past July that was higher than both the same month last year and the mark posted in June 2009. So says data out this week the Air Travel Consumer Report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Look for yourself.
Before we get to the congratulatory back-slapping, remember this: Results improved partly due to fewer planes in the skies amid falling travel demand. On the other hand, the DOT points out the first seven months of 2009 had the highest rate of on-time arrivals in six years. Details here.
Here are some highlights from the July DOT analysis based on 19 reporting carriers:
* Overall: 77.6 percent on-time arrivals.
* Highest On-Time Arrival Rates: 1. Hawaiian Airlines – 93.6 percent; 2. Alaska Airlines – 87.2 percent, and 3. SkyWest Airlines – 83.6 percent.
* Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates: 1. Comair – 63.6 percent; 2. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 68.3 percent, and 3. AirTran Airways – 69.8 percent.
* Most Frequently Delayed Flights: 1. Northwest Airlines flight 1266 from Boston to Tampa, tied with Northwest Airlines flight 1554 from West Palm Beach to Boston – both late 96.77 percent of the time; 3. Pinnacle Airlines flight 896 from Knoxville, TN to Atlanta – late 93.10 percent of the time; 4. Comair flight 6511 from Omaha, NE to Atlanta – late 89.47 percent of the time, and 5. Pinnacle Airlines flight 2923 from Detroit to La Crosse, WI/Winona, MN – late 85.71 percent of the time.
* Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays (one of my favorite stats): 1. Delta Air Lines flight 745 from New York JFK to Portland, OR, 7/26/09 – delayed on tarmac 392 minutes; 2. Continental Airlines flight 432 from Houston to New York LaGuardia, 7/29/09 – delayed on tarmac 310 minutes; 3. Continental Airlines flight 1176 from Chicago O’Hare to Newark, NJ, 7/29/09 – delayed on tarmac 299 minutes; 4. US Airways flight 17 from New York JFK to Phoenix, 7/26/09 – delayed on tarmac 276 minutes, and 5. JetBlue Airways flight 34 from New York JFK to Rochester, NY, 7/26/09 – delayed on tarmac 268 minutes
* Highest Rates of Canceled Flights: 1. Comair – 5.4 percent; 2. American Eagle Airlines – 2.2 percent, and 3. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 2.0 percent.
* Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights: 1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.1 percent; 2. Alaska Airlines – 0.4 percent, and 3. Continental Airlines – 0.4 percent.
In addition, USA Today reports carriers also canceled nearly 7,000 flights during the month, or 1.2 percent of their total operations. They also reported 164 flights that had tarmac delays of 3 hours or more, including 29 that taxied for four hours or more before departing or returning to the gate. US Airways (34 flights with 3 hours-or-more tarmac delay), Delta (26) and JetBlue (24) were the worst offenders.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist