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Airlines report lower marks for on-time flights

Delays Hamper Busiest Holiday Travel Day At O'Hare
Air travelers saw a lower rate of on-time flights in 2006 compared with the year before, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation.Scott Olson / Getty Images file
/ Source: news services

There is good news for the U.S. airline industry: Fewer passengers filed airline service-related complaints with the government in 2006 compared with the year prior. The bad news? The airlines posted a lower rate of on-time flights and more reports of mishandled baggage.

Findings from data submitted by 20 carriers showed on on-time arrival rate of just over 75 percent in 2006, down 2 percent from 2005

The airlines also reported 6.73 reports of mishandled baggage per 1,000 travelers last year vs. 6.64 the year before.

Overall, however, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Air Travel Consumer Report — issued Wednesday — reported 8,321 complaints about airline service, a drop of more than 400 compared with 2005's figures.

The report also included information on airlines' "bumping," or overselling flights, causes for flight delays, complaints involving pets and more.

Other notable findings from the U.S. DOT report:

  • In 2006, the carriers had a bumping rate of 1.01 per 10,000 passengers, up from the 0.88 rate for 2005.
  • In December, carriers reported seven incidents involving pets while traveling by air, up from one incident in November.  The December incidents involved one death, two injuries and four lost pets.
  • In December, the carriers reported that 8.15 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 8.22 percent in November; 8.96 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.77 percent in November; 7.80 percent by factors within the airline’s control — such as maintenance or crew problems — compared to 5.83 percent in November; 0.97 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.79 percent in November; and 0.10 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.05 percent in November.
  • In December, the department received 604 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 6.2 percent from the 644 complaints filed in December 2005 but up 2.7 percent from the total of 588 received in November 2006.
  • In December, the Department received nine complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability — such as race, religion, national origin or sex — down from the total of 13 received in December 2005 and identical to the total of nine filed in November 2006.  For all of last year, the department received 114 discrimination complaints, down 11.6 percent from the 129 complaints received in 2005.