If We Have To Deal With Increased Airline Fees At Least Planes Are Arriving On Time

It might seem too good to be true, but it isn’t: The airline industry is in the midst of its best performance in regards to on-time flight arrivals since 1988. Cold comfort for the next time you’re watching the clock tick your life away waiting to take off on a congested runway during the holidays, sure, but a good sign nevertheless.

Almost 84% of domestic flights arrived within 15 minutes of their scheduled time in the first six months of 2012, which is the best it’s been since the government started keeping an eye on things in 1988, reports the Associated Press. If it continues to go so swimmingly for the rest of the year, it’ll beat the all-time full-year best of 83% in 1991. Last year flights arrived on time 77% of the time. The worst year was back in 2000 when only 73% of flights were punctual.

And with more flights arriving when they should and making their connections, that means more bags have made it where they should when they should without getting damaged. Around three suitcases per 1,000 travelers were reported lost, damaged or delayed so far this year. baggage had a bad year in 1989, with almost eight suitcases per 1,000 people getting snagged up.

Part of the reason flights are on time more is that there’s less demand to fly the friendly skies, so more planes get grounded. That means fewer planes are fighting for takeoff times and have some wiggle room. Weather is also a factor — snow and rain haven’t been as bad as usual, clearing up the skies for timely flights.

There are a bunch of additional reasons that are a result of the airlines trying to improve their schedules and get people where they’re trying to go, including better technology to cut down on maintenance problems, schedules that are padded with extra time, quicker food and fuel delivery and better boarding procedures to herd us all onto planes faster and unload as quickly as possible.

Oh and of course, airlines don’t want to end up shelling out precious dollars to the government for fines related to sitting on the tarmac for over three hours. Those can total about $4 million a jet, as airlines can be fined up to $27,500 per passenger in those cases. Yikes.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says his office has been cracking down on the industry to make sure customers are pleased.

“We sent a very loud message to the airlines that they need to treat people with respect,” LaHood says. “People pay a lot of money to get on an airplane and they expect to have to on-time service.”

Thanks, Ray! Now, about those pesky checked bag fees and paying out extra for a window seat…

Now arriving on time: Your flight and suitcase [Associated Press]


Edit Your Comment

  1. George4478 says:

    On my full-to-the-brim Delta flight from Denver last month, the flight attendants were giving a countdown over the PA to get people into their seats as they were boarding.

    “We’ll be on time if everyone in the aisle can find their seats in 2 minutes.”
    “We have one minute to get everyone to their seat.”
    “Thirty seconds.”

    They closed the door and then the external power cart that starts the engines didn’t work. So we sat there for a half hour while they got another one.

    • George4478 says:

      I am the 16%

    • Press1forDialTone says:

      I think this technique is great as long as everything -else- is ready
      for takeoff on the flight.
      So many people on board are just bunch of whining babies anyway
      they need a kindergarten teacher to count ’em down. They’re either
      in the bathroom getting their rocks off or snorting some cocaine or
      they just can see to get their carry-on in the itty bitty overhead compartment.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Speaking of fines for excessive tarmac delays, I thought that was supposed to bring the entire industry to its knees. That’s what the airlines said. They claimed it would be impossible, costly, and destroy them completely.



    Nope, not destroyed.

    • JustJayce says:

      At the expense of the consumer that is. Airlines now return flights to the gate if there is even a hint that this delay will become excessive. So yes it hasn’t destroyed the airlines… just created new delays in the airport. But hey I can stretch my legs for 5 hours now right :)

      • HeadsOnPikes says:

        Um, yes? There were never any guarantees that flights would never be massively late. The problem was in being stuck on a plane for hours on end, often without A/C, working bathrooms, water, etc. If you’re going to delay me, let me go to the terminal rather than keep me on the plane.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    “We sent a very loud message to the airlines that they need to treat people with respect”

    Well that certainly sounds like it has the force of law behind it.

  4. awesome anna says:

    That’s funny…. because just last week my 8.30pm flight didn’t arrive until 10.50pm. That’s not even close to being on time.

    • StatusfriedCrustomer says:

      Then you get to the Customs line and find they have one agent on duty for a line of people a mile long.

  5. Chuft-Captain says:

    I think they forgot to mention that another reason for the improvement is the way they have been fudging the times for several years, intentionally adding extra time to the itinerary to allow for delays.

    • longdvsn says:

      yup. Flights I frequently booked were scheduled for 2hrs30min of flight time a few years ago. Now it’s 2hrs50min.
      Either their planes got slower with new technology or they added in a big cushion. Obviously it’s the latter.

  6. SmBizMan says:

    Ok, this article may be factually true, but let’s look at why.

    A law was passed requiring airlines to be on time more often

    Airlines simply added time to the arrival time, i.e. it was 1:00pm EST now there is a law to be on time so lets make arrival time 1:45pm EST so we can always be on time

    Airlines now arrive “early” for a lot of flights

    The statistics look good, lawmakers look good, airlines look good, and people write articles like this one.

    What was the point?

    • jumbojeepman says:

      The point was you get a realistic estimate of actual arrival time that accounts for the inevitable delays associated with herding 100-500 people into a plane instead of a pie in the sky arrival time based upon everything working exactly to plan.

  7. Silt says:

    I flew Allegiant a few weeks back. My departing flight was delayed over an hour, yet the terminal monitors showed the flight as “on time” and then “Departed” as if the flight was never delayed. My return flight was delayed about 45 minutes…same thing, terminal monitors all showed “on time” and then “Departed”. I figured it was just their way of fudging their numbers.

  8. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Well damn, I hope so. American changed my flight times so I have a 55-minute window to catch a transfer at O’Hare. I do NOT want to get stuck in Chicago when I only have a three-day weekend. If my plane is late, I’m SCREWED.

    I don’t know whether to call them or just pray.