Make us your home page

On-time flight numbers empower travelers

Just like when big-league batters hit a homer or strike out, airlines tally a score every time one of their flights pulls up to the gate.

If a plane arrives 15 minutes or more behind schedule, it counts against the flight's on-time record. Airlines routinely report the numbers to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Each month, the feds publish each carrier's overall on-time percentage.

Only the worst of the worst flights — those that run late 80 percent of the time or more — make the list of shame.

Starting this summer, the DOT will require that all but the smallest U.S. airlines disclose the on-time performance of every flight on their Web sites. Some carriers already provide this during the booking process. Others — Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways and AirTran Airlines among them — don't yet.

Airline reservation agents also will give you the numbers, but only if you ask. The new rules won't apply to on-line travel sites or travel agents.

But will consumers care? Even if the flight they want is consistently really, really late?

Travelers traditionally base their buying decisions on price and schedule. Membership in an airline's loyalty program sometimes tips the scales.

Airlines, through their trade organization, argued to the DOT that a flight's on-time record isn't much value in predicting how it will perform later. More than 70 percent of flight delays and cancellations are caused by weather, said the Air Transport Association.

Still, why not give consumers the data and let them decide whether a carrier's track record on a particular route is relevant?

"We all live by our statistics," says Joe Brancatelli, publisher of the business travel website "If you show me six flights and their records are 20, 60 and 80 percent on time, why wouldn't I pick the best one?"

Besides listing the basic on-time percentage, the DOT will require "special highlighting" of chronically delayed flights — those that run more than 30 minutes late more than half the time.

"These delays are the kind that are likely to result in missed connections and other serious problems," the agency wrote in its final order on the rules. Armed with a chronic delay warning, consumers might book an earlier flight, pick another airline or even drive if it's a short hop.

Doesn't that sound better than sitting in some airport wishing you were home?

On-time flight numbers empower travelers 04/20/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 11:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall


    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages


    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.