The Dept. of Transportation released its Air Travel Consumer Report for November 2010 yesterday, and for the first time since 2008, U.S. airports went two months in a row without a single plane being delayed on the tarmac for more than three hours.
Since the DOT enacted its new policy that fines airlines up to $27,500 per passenger on each plane stranded on the tarmac for three or more hours, the agency says there have been only 12 such delays. Compare this to 550 three-plus hour delays during the same time period in 2009.
The November news may surprise some, given the spike in air travel during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Additionally, this year’s holiday run-up was marked by mass anti-TSA sentiment as the agency continued to roll out its controversial full-body scanners (or, alternatively, employ a more touchy-feely pat-down for those choosing to side-step the scanners). Some had feared that anti-scanner protests would cause delays in the security lines; if they did, those delays didn’t translate into tarmac gridlock.
On the downside, DOT reports a slight uptick in canceled flights, from .5% in Nov. 2009 to .7% in Nov. 2010.
Total complaints against airline also increased, with DOT receiving 99 more complaints in November than it did during the same month in 2009.