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]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Told you so.

  2. Link_Shinigami says:

    Why would complaints increase? They are spending less time on the tarmac? Are people actually complaining more from LESS waits? Seriously

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Check the date range – I think the correlation is an increase in complaints as more fees and worse customer service continued to rise over the last year. It’s not directly related to tarmac delays.

    • Kitamura says:

      Complaints about airline service, not just delays. There’s no denying that over the last year, flying has gotten shittier, therefore the number of people complaining about it would increase.

    • SonarTech52 says:

      Im thinking the complaints increased since either
      a) People know that the DOT is paying more attention and know the complaints will be heard now. or
      b) People want to get some of that fine money for having to wait long.

  3. Munchie says:

    So once again another thing business had full control over but never cared to address. Now when there are finally financial penalties, boom not an issue.

  4. thrillcook says:

    Please wait till winter for full delay data

  5. Urgleglurk says:

    Does anyone know if the stats take into consideration the flight schedule cuts since last year?

  6. Al Rognlie says:

    That’s actually surprising to me. I hope this pans out for the rest of the year.

  7. NeverLetMeDown says:

    The data is pretty squishy. If you use last year’s cancellation rate on this year’s flight number, then cancellations were up by about 85 flights. The cancellation rate didn’t stay “exactly” the same – it went up, if only marginally. Effectively, the number of flights cancelled stayed almost exactly flat, while the total number of flights went down 1%. The numbers of 3 hour delays were so small that saying from the overall cancellation data that the rule had no effect is a stretch. The impact (whatever it was) from the rule gets swamped by the other potential causes of cancellation.

  8. JustLurking says:

    What I want to know is if any fines have been levied for ramp delays.

    Weren’t there supposed to be $25,000 per passenger fines for each incident? Or something of that magnitude?

  9. Big Mama Pain says:

    You know, for all the whining airlines do about being regulated, they sure as shit are proving gov’t right about it working.

  10. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    So much for the airline industry’s OOOHH NOOOES!!!111 WE’Z WILL BE ROOOOINED!!111ELEVENZ dire predictions.