Last updated: 09:57 PM ET, Tue March 12 2013

DOT Reports Tarmac Delays on Flights Down in January

Airlines & Airports U.S. Department of Transportation Gretchen Kelly March 12, 2013

U.S. airlines are picking up their performance if January’s figures are any indication. According the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report, released March 12, airlines reported just two tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, but no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights during the month.

The long domestic tarmac delays took place on Jan. 27 and are under investigation by the DOT. One of the tarmac delays took place on a flight departing Chicago O’Hare Airport and the other on a flight diverted to Bullhead City, Ariz.

The reporting airlines also posted an on-time arrival rate of 81 percent in January, down from January 2012’s 83.7 percent mark, but up from December 2012’s 76.6 percent. Airlines canceled 1.5 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in January, equal to the 1.5 percent cancellation rate posted in January 2012, and down from the 1.6 percent rate posted in December 2012.

At the end of January, there were 12 flights that were chronically delayed -- more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time -- for two consecutive months. There were no chronically delayed flights for three consecutive months or more.

In January, airlines filing on-time performance data reported that 5.73 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.19 percent in December; 6.02 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 8.55 percent in December; 4.98 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.21 percent in December; 0.55 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.59 percent in December; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.05 percent in December.

The U.S. airlines reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.41 reports per 1,000 passengers in January, up from January 2012’s rate of 3.30, but down from December 2012’s rate of 4.15.

In addition, the DOT received 1,368 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 46.3 percent from the 935 complaints filed in January 2012, and up 51.8 percent from the 901 received in December 2012.