Airline mishandled baggage rate lowest in decades
For the third quarter of 2017, the 12 U.S. carriers who report involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, data posted a bumping rate of 0.15 per 10,000 passengers, the lowest quarterly rate based on historical data dating back to 1995 and down from both the rate of 0.69 for the third quarter of 2016 and the previous lowest quarterly rate of 0.44 posted in the second quarter of 2017.
For the first nine months of this year, the carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.39 per 10,000 passengers, the lowest January through September rate based on historical data dating back to 1995 and down from the rate of 0.65 posted during the first nine months of 2016. The previous lowest rate for the January through September period was 0.64 in 2002.
Oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly. See the November Air Travel Consumer Report for denied boarding numbers by airline.
The U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 1.99 reports per 1,000 passengers in September, an improvement over both September 2016’s rate of 2.23 and August 2017’s rate of 2.45 and the lowest monthly rate since DOT started collecting mishandled baggage report data in September 1987.
The previous low was 2.02 in November 2016. For the first nine months of this year, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.50 reports per 1,000 passengers, an improvement over the 2.75 rate recorded during the first nine months of 2016.
In September, the reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 83.6 percent, down from the 85.5 percent on-time rate in September 2016, but up from the 77.1 percent mark in August 2017.
The reporting carriers canceled 3.3 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, up from both the 0.3 percent cancellation rate posted in September 2016 and the 2.2 percent rate in August 2017. Hurricanes Irma in Florida and Maria in Puerto Rico resulted in an unusually high number of cancellations in September 2017.
In September, airlines reported eight tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to nine such tarmac delays reported in August 2017.
In September, airlines also reported one tarmac delay of more than four hours on international flights, compared to two such tarmac delays reported in August 2017. All reported extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.
At the end of September, there was one regularly scheduled flight that was chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for five consecutive months.
In September 2017, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 16.36 percent of their flights were delaye. In addition, 3.34 percent of flights were canceled and 0.17 percent were diverted.
Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category. This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved. Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category.
BTS uses the data collected from airlines to determine the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, which includes those reported in the categories of extreme weather, late-arriving aircraft, and National Aviation System delays.
In September, 29.82 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from 29.25 percent in September 2016 and down from 36.08 percent in August 2017.
In September, carriers reported six incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, up from both the five reports filed in September 2016 and the four reports filed in August 2017. September’s incidents involved the deaths of two animals and injuries to four other animals.
In September, DOT received 1,576 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 21.0 percent from the total of 1,302 filed in September 2016 and down 17.4 percent from the 1,907 received in August 2017.
For the first nine months of this year, the Department received 14,419 consumer complaints, up 3.8 percent from the total of 13,893 filed during the first nine months of 2016.
The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in September against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.
The Department received a total of 63 disability-related complaints in September, up from the 61 complaints received in September 2016, but down from the 98 received in August 2017.
For the first nine months of this year, the Department received 664 disability-related complaints, up 1.5 percent from the total of 654 filed during the first nine months of 2016. All complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability are investigated.
In September 2017, the Aviation Consumer Protection Division received six complaints alleging discrimination – three complaints regarding race and three complaints regarding national origin.
This is equal to the total of six recorded in September 2016 and down from the 11 recorded in August 2017. From January to September 2017, the Division received 68 complaints from consumers alleging discrimination by airlines. ■