Tarmac Delays Down Drastically From Last Year, Cancellations Unchanged

In the second month of the recently enacted laws limiting the amount of time a plane can sit on the tarmac without taking off, the Dept. of Transportation says only three flights went over the 3-hour limit; that’s down from 268 flights for the same month in 2009. Meanwhile, the rate of canceled flights remained exactly the same as last year.

According to the DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report, all three of the limit-breaking flights occurred on the same day, June 18, at the same airport (O’Hare) and the operated United Airlines. In the report, the DOT notes that this day was marked by severe thunderstorms in Chicago, which could be a mitigating factor in the regulator’s decision on whether or not to fine the airline for the delayed flights.

Meanwhile, the report says that 1.5% of flights were canceled in June, the same percentage that was reported in June 2009.

This info flies in the face of a study released last month claiming that the tarmac delays would lead to mass cancellations… a study the DOT labeled as “misleading and premature.”

While the DOT report only covers June, preliminary data for July shows that cancellations didn’t increase noticeably in that month either.

Also of interest in the report, the number of consumer complaints received by the DOT about airline service increased 90%, from 748 complaints in June 2009 to 1,419 complaints in June 2010.

You can read all 51 pages of the report in PDF format here.

Long Tarmac Delays in June Down Dramatically from Last Year [DOT release]