Airline on-time performance

What can be made of airline claims about on-time performance?

Hawaiian is Nation’s Most On-Time Airline for 5th Straight Year,” a press release announced yesterday. “Airline Leaps from Worst to First among the ‘Big Six’ Hub-and-Spoke Carriers,” said the release from US Airways.

In that spirit, we can confidently announce that Northwest Airlines was the nation’s top on-time airline among airlines with a hub in Minneapolis and owned by an airline in Atlanta.

These are based on the Department of Transportation performance statistics for December.

For Minneapolis-St. Paul, we learn that:

  • Northwest’s flights were on time only about 65% of the time. That’s good for 10th place among the rated airlines.
  • Northwest’s on-time performance at MSP was better than most other airlines, though none of it was much to write home about.
  • The hour during which the most flights arrive on time at MSP is between 6 and 7 a.m. (68.6%). The hour during which the most flights arrive late at MSP is between 10and 11 p.m. (45.1%)
  • The highest percentage of departing flight delays is 9-10 p.m. The best hour is 7-8 a.m. to depart.
  • Northwest flight 599 — Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon runs late 93 percent of the time. The average delay is about an hour and a half. It was the second-worst on-time performance in the country. Only AmericaWest’s flight from Atlanta to San Antonio is worse.
  • Of all airlines at Minneapolis-St. Paul, flights arrived late 62.3 percent of the time, and departed late 67.9 percent of the time.
  • Northwest canceled the fewest number of flights of any major airline.
  • December’s biggest headache was, no doubt, shared by passengers of Express Jet flight 2418 at George Bush Airport in Houston, who had a 7-hour tarmac delay. It snowed in Houston that day.
  • Southwest Airlines, which starts flying at MSP next month, had the fewest rate of passenger complaints. United was the worst.
    • I wonder is Northwest flight 599 the same crew everyday(most days). If so interviewing them as to what they think are the reasons they are late everyday (93% of time) would be interesting.

      Are they the last flight of the morning, ie the arivals have started and the runways are getting jammed (flights early so take off delayed). Are they at the morning break time for the ground crew, ie the suitcases are late getting on.

    • L. Naylor

      Right. SWA airlines has the lowest number of complaints. Of course. You expect nothing and you get it every time. What’s to complain about?