NEW YORK (AP) — October was the first month that no airplanes were stuck on the ground for more than three hours since the government started collecting such data in 2008, the Department of Transportation said Tuesday.
Long delays are rare in October because it’s one of the slowest months for air travel and weather is relatively mild in most of the country. Still, DOT said the results show the rule that threatens huge fines for airlines with long delays is working. There were 11 delays of more than three hours in October 2009.
No fines have been doled out for three-hour violations since the rule went into effect April 29.
Overall, more flights were on time in October compared with a year ago. The on-time rate for the nation’s largest airlines was 83.8 percent, up from 77.3 percent in October last year. More flights were delayed than in September of this year, when the on-time rate was 85.1 percent.
Hawaiian Airlines, AirTran Airways and United Airlines did the best job at getting passengers to their destinations on time. Comair, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways were the worst.
There was one route in September that was considered chronically delayed — more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time — for three consecutive months. That Delta Connection flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles was late more than 71 percent of the time in October.
Passenger complaints about airline service were down overall in October, but up for U.S. airlines. Complaints about foreign airlines fell.
U.S. airlines appear to be doing a better job with checked bags. The mishandled baggage rate dropped from 3.51 reports per 1,000 passengers in October 2009 to 2.91 this October.