Source: US Department of Transportation
The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) on airline operational data compiled for the month of December 2022 and calendar year 2022 for on-time performance, mishandled baggage, and mishandled wheelchairs and scooters.
The ATCR is designed to assist consumers with information on the quality of services provided by airlines. DOT remains committed to ensuring airline passengers are treated fairly and is concerned about recent flight cancellations and flight disruptions and difficulties families are experiencing in sitting together with no fees. The Department is currently investigating four domestic airlines to ensure that they are not engaging in unrealistic scheduling of flights. Last week, DOT rolled out a new family seating dashboard that highlights the airlines that guarantee fee-free family seating, and those that do not, making it easier for parents to avoid paying junk fees to sit with their children when they fly.
Also, last summer, the Department announced its new airline customer service dashboard to help travelers determine what services they are owed when a flight is canceled or delayed because of an airline issue. Because of the creation of this dashboard and Secretary Buttigieg urging U.S. airlines to improve their service, the airlines made significant changes to their plans, which are now enforceable. Before DOT pressed airlines, none of them guaranteed meals or hotels when they were the cause of a cancellation or significant flight change. Today, all 10 large U.S. airlines commit to providing meals upon request when a controllable cancellation or delay results in passengers waiting for three hours or more for a new flight. In addition, nine of the 10 large U.S. airlines now promise to provide hotel accommodations upon request for any passenger affected by a controllable overnight delay or cancellation. A controllable cancellation or delay is a delay or cancellation caused by the airline.
DOT uses the data from the ATCR, consumer complaints, and other information it secures from the airlines to inform its enforcement activities and the adequacy of existing rules.
The 547,134 flights operated in December 2022 were 81.33% of the 672,765 flights operated in pre-pandemic December 2019. Operated flights in December 2022 were down 3.41% year-over-year from the 566,465 flights operated in December 2021 and down 2.48% month-over-month from 561,067 flights operated in November 2022.
In December 2022, the 10 marketing network carriers reported 578,321 scheduled domestic flights, 31,187 (5.4%) of which were canceled. In December 2021, the same airlines reported 566,465 scheduled domestic flights, 13,773 (2.4%) of which were canceled. In November 2022, airlines scheduled 567,507 domestic flights, of which 6,440 (1.1%) were canceled. In December 2019, airlines scheduled 679,941 domestic flights, of which 7,176 (1.1%) were canceled.
December 2022 On-Time Arrival
In December 2022, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 69.0% down from 80.0% in November 2022 and down from 78.2% in pre-pandemic December 2019. The year-to-date on-time arrival rate for 2022 is 76.7%.
Highest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates December 2022 (ATCR Table 1)
- Delta Air Lines Network – 77.5%
- American Airlines Network – 73.7%
- United Airlines Network – 71.8%
Lowest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates December 2022 (ATCR Table 1)
- Frontier Airlines – 56.6%
- Allegiant Air – 57.2%
- Hawaiian Airlines – 58.1%
For calendar year 2022, the reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 76.72% down from 78.97% for the same period in pre-pandemic 2019.
December 2022 Flight Cancellations
In December 2022, reporting marketing carriers canceled 5.4% of their scheduled domestic flights, higher than the rate 1.1% in both November 2022 and in pre-pandemic December 2019. Of the industry-wide 5.4% cancellation rate in December 2022, 54.51% of the cancellations were attributed to Southwest. Southwest canceled 14,042 flights from December 24 to December 31, which was 72.3% of the total flights that reporting carriers canceled during that time.
Lowest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights December 2022 (ATCR Table 6)
- American Airlines Network – 1.8%
- JetBlue Airways – 1.9%
- Delta Air Lines Network – 2.9%
Highest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights December 2022 (ATCR Table 6)
- Southwest Airlines – 14.6%
- Alaska Airlines Network – 7.6%
- Allegiant Air – 5.3%
For calendar year 2022, the reporting marketing carriers posted a cancellation rate of 2.7% up from 1.9% for the same period in pre-pandemic 2019.
Complaints About Airline Service
The Department received a high volume of air travel service complaints and inquiries against airlines and ticket agents in December 2022. The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection is working diligently to process the large number of complaints and inquiries received. Nevertheless, the issuance of the ATCR has been delayed because of the time needed to review and process these consumer complaints. Consumer complaint data for December 2022 and the full year 2022 will be publicly available in its usual format in early April at https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/air-travel-consumer-reports.
In December 2022, airlines reported 79 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to eight tarmac delays reported in November 2022. In December 2022, airlines reported three tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to five tarmac delays reported in November 2022. For calendar year 2022, airlines reported 376 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and 21 tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights. For calendar year 2021, airlines reported 155 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and nine tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights.
Airlines are required to have and adhere to assurances that they will not allow aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights without providing passengers the option to deplane, subject to exceptions related to safety, security, and Air Traffic Control related reasons. An exception also exists for departure delays if the airline begins to return the aircraft to a suitable disembarkation point to deplane passengers by those times.
Extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.
In December 2022, reporting marketing carriers handled 40.4 million bags and posted a mishandled baggage rate of 1.09%, higher than the rate of 0.51% in November 2022 and higher than the rate of 0.66% in pre-pandemic December 2019. Of the industry-wide 1.09% mishandling rate in December 2022, 26.68% of the mishandlings were attributed to Southwest.
For calendar year 2022, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 0.64%, higher rate than the 2019 rate of 0.59%.
In the previous three calendar year reports (2019 to 2022), the Department calculated the mishandled baggage rate based on the number of mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags. The Department is now displaying the mishandled baggage data as a percentage (i.e., per 100 bags enplaned). This is consistent with the manner that the mishandled wheelchairs and scooters rate is calculated and displayed.
Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters
In December 2022, reporting marketing carriers reported checking 62,086 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 1,008 for a rate of 1.62% mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, higher than the rate of 1.48% mishandled in November 2022 and higher than the rate of 1.53% mishandled in pre-pandemic December 2019.
For calendar year 2022, the carriers posted a mishandled wheelchair and scooter rate of 1.54%, equal to the 2019 rate of 1.54%.
Bumping/oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly. For the fourth quarter of 2022, the 10 U.S. reporting marketing carriers posted an involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, rate of 0.30 per 10,000 passengers, higher than the rate of 0.23 in the fourth quarter of 2021 and higher than the rate of 0.16 in the fourth quarter of 2019.
For calendar year 2022, the carriers posted a bumping/oversales rate of 0.32 per 10,000 passengers, higher than the pre-pandemic 2019 rate of 0.24.
Incidents Involving Animals
For calendar year 2022, carriers reported seven animal deaths, injuries to one other animal, and one lost animal, for a total of nine incidents, down from the 19 incident reports filed for pre-pandemic calendar year 2019.
For calendar year 2022, 188,223 animals were transported by airlines, for a rate of 0.48 incidents per 10,000 animals transported. In pre-pandemic 2019, 404,556 animals were transported, for a rate of 0.47 incidents per 10,000 animals transported.
In December 2022, carriers reported no incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from both the one report filed in November 2022 and the two reports filed in pre-pandemic December 2019.
Consumers may file air travel consumer or civil rights complaints online at http://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm or by voicemail at (202) 366-2220, or they may mail a complaint to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590.
The ATCR and other aviation consumer matters of interest to the public can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer.