Government says more flights landing on time; Hawaiian ranks first, American finishes last

Associated Press

The government says that the 15 biggest U.S. airlines were on time a bit more often in November.

The Transportation Department said Thursday that 85.7 per cent of flights operated by the biggest airlines arrived on time in November. That's up from 85.3 per cent in November 2011 and 80.2 per cent last October, when Superstorm Sandy fouled up flights.

Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time record, followed by AirTran Airways and Delta Air Lines. American Airlines had the worst performance, with one in every five flights running late.

Airlines cancelled 1 per cent of their domestic flights, up from 0.7 per cent in November 2011 but a sharp improvement from October, when Sandy caused thousands of flights along the East Coast to be scrubbed.

Among the nation's 29 busiest airports, passengers were most likely to run into delays in San Francisco, where 28 per cent of arrivals were late. For the first 11 months of 2012, Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport was last. Phoenix's Sky Harbor had the best November record at 90.9 per cent on-time arrivals, and Salt Lake City was best through the first 11 months of the year.

Two planes stayed on the tarmac longer than allowed by federal rules, both on Nov. 7 during a snowstorm in the New York area. One was operated by Delta, the other by British Airways. Airlines can be fined for such delays, and the Transportation Department said it was investigating both cases.

Fewer than three travellers in 1,000 reported bags being lost, damaged or delayed in November, about the same rate as a year earlier. Overall, complaints rose 12.8 per cent, but the number — 987 — was tiny. Few passengers bother to file a formal complaint with the government.

United Airlines had the highest rate of complaints, followed by American. Passengers on Southwest Airlines were the least likely to complain.

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The government's full report can be found here: http://1.usa.gov/WvzWrb

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