It’s already been a rough start to 2014 when it comes to flight delays. But we can bid a fond farewell to 2013, when more than a million flights were delayed, diverted, or outright canceled. The reality is you can’t always avoid the weather problems, or a Congressional budget hiccup and a government shutdown that also affects air traffic controllers. But there are things you can do and still stand a reasonably good chance to get ahead of the game.
Each month the Department of Transportation releases the Air Travel Consumer Report, which details major airline delays, cancellations, and arrival times. Why does this matter? It’s the best indicator of chronically delayed flights and airlines.
According to The Wall Street Journal, 2013 was one of the worst years for airline reliability in the last five years. Flight Stats analyzed the data and reported that just 78 percent of flights arrived on time in 2013; 80 percent were on time in 2012. And 2014 isn’t looking any better with 20,000 flight cancellations in eight days due to storms and extreme cold.
If you’ve resolved to get to your destination on time, read on to see which airlines you might want to fly with and which flights are, in terms of airline scheduling “losers.”
Hawaiian Airlines consistently ranks first in on-time arrivals. In 2013, 93.4 percent of flights arrived as scheduled. It stayed around that number all year long and, in the latest three months of data (August through October), it only had 13 cancellations, the second lowest of all U.S. airlines.
Alaska comes in second with 86.8 percent of flights arriving on time. The airline was reliable, keeping consistent numbers each quarter of the year. Its peak performance was April through June when other airlines faced spring storms.
Delta Air Lines
Delta comes in third: 85.2 percent of flights arrived on time. Performance dipped in April through June slightly to 82.5 percent, when most airlines slumped. Delta kept its cancellations among the lowest at a consistent 0.1 percent.
US Airways is fourth with 82 percent. In September and October its performance spiked to about 88 percent, a solid performance despite hurricane season.
Virgin America is fifth with 81.6 percent. The airline kept its cancellations lower than any other airline at only 12 cancellations for August through October.