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Airlines’ on-time performance falters in Oct.

Airline Delays
Out of 19 U.S. airlines’ on-time arrival rates in October, according to the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Northwest Airlines trailed the group at 69.3 percent.Kiichiro Sato / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

U.S. airlines did a poorer job getting passengers to their destinations on-time in October compared to the same month a year ago.

The Department of Transportation said Tuesday that the 19 carriers surveyed recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 77.3 percent in October. That was lower than the 86 percent recorded in October 2008 and below the 86.2 percent recorded in September of this year.

Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance in October, with a 93.4 percent rate, followed by Alaska Airlines at 85.8 percent and JetBlue Airways at 82.9 percent.

Delta Air Lines subsidiary Northwest Airlines was worst, with a 69.3 percent on-time record. Atlantic Southeast Airlines was slightly better than that at 71.6 percent and ExpressJet Airlines was at 72.6 percent.

The DOT said that in October, 41.1 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from the same month a year ago when 34.5 percent of late flights had weather delays.

The government said the cancellation rate was higher in October compared to a year ago, and the agency received more complaints about airline service than a year ago as well.

The airlines' mishandled baggage rate improved year-over-year.

Weary travelers have been critical of airlines' add-on fees for checked baggage and other items, delays and less convenient travel options. Carriers have been cutting back flights due to the economy and soft demand for air travel.

A particularly thorny issue for travelers has been tarmac delays. According to the DOT, in October U.S. airlines reported that 0.002 percent of their scheduled flights had tarmac delays of three hours or more, up from 0.001 percent in September. There were no flights with tarmac delay of four hours or more in October.

The most frequently delayed flight in October was Southwest Airlines Flight 3545 from Phoenix to Sacramento, Calif., which was late 95.5 percent of the time.