Hawaiian, Southwest, Allegiant top Forbes list of fastest airlines in the U.S.

Adrienne Jordan

If time is of the essence when you travel, book with Hawaiian Airlines.

The airline ranks as the speediest airline, according to a new report from Forbes.

Forbes partnered with Aerospace Engineering and Research Associates (AERA) to study airport performance metrics and to gauge America's fastest airlines. Since 1987, on-time rates have been compiled by the Department of Transportation, where they allow airlines to determine flight times at their discretion. According to Forbes, these numbers have flaws: If a flight lands within 15 minutes of its scheduled arrival time, DOT counts it as on time.  

AERA and Forbes came up with a new metric that's based on the "block time," which is the time from when a  plane’s brakes are released on departure through when the brakes are set at the arrival gate and the door opens. AERA reviewed all scheduled flights in the U.S. in 2018 to calculate the shortest flight time on each route.Forbes used the following example to illustrate the methodology: "For example, the minimum block time for the LaGuardia to Miami route was pegged at 164 minutes. Airlines’ actual flight times varied from an average of 172 minutes (Frontier) to 192 minutes (American)."

  AERA used this data to calculate an efficiency index average that analyzed how close an airline's flights for the year got to their routes’ minimum block times.

Among the ten mainline carriers, Hawaiian Airlines came out on top, which ranked first for efficiency as well as the DOT's on-time rate. Forbes stated that this ranking could be a result of most of Hawaiian's domestic flights being short distances between the calm-weathered Hawaiian islands.

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Southwest was number two on the list. The airlines' 2018 domestic flights averaged 12.5 minutes above the minimum achievable times on each route it flew.  Southwest is the country's largest domestic carrier with 1.3 million flights last year.

"Southwest flies three to four more flights a day on a given route than many of its competitors, and that requires tighter operations," Sam Ford, Southwest’s managing director for operations, told Forbes. “Consistent execution on the block is really important for us,” he says. “That’s table stakes for us.”

Alaska Airlines came out last in efficiency but landed third by the DOT’s on-time rate, according to Forbes. Alaska's average flight in 2018 was 20.7 minutes above the minimum block time. 

However, next time you are feeling disgruntled at flight delays, it might not be the airline's fault. "A big contributor to those flight delays is the failure to effectively manage the flow of planes arriving at airports," says Lonnie Bowlin, president of Dunkirk, Maryland-based AERA told Forbes.

"A flight that’s 15 minutes early with no gate open for it to go to can be just as disruptive as one that arrives five minutes past the scheduled time."

Here are the rankings of the top 10 fastest airlines:

1. Hawaiian Airlines

2. Southwest Airlines

3. Allegiant Airlines

4. Delta Airlines

5. Spirit Airlines

6. JetBlue Airlines

7. Frontier Airlines

8. United Airlines

9. American Airlines

10. Frontier Airlines

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hawaiian, Southwest, Allegiant top Forbes list of fastest airlines in the U.S.