Government says US airlines improved on-time performance in March to 80 percent

By David Koenig, AP
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Airlines improve on-time performance in March

DALLAS — The government says U.S. airlines are doing better at staying on schedule.

The Transportation Department said Tuesday that the airlines averaged an 80 percent on-time arrival rate in March, better than February and better than March 2009.

Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Pinnacle Airlines had the best on-time ratings. JetBlue, ExpressJet and American Airlines had the worst.

The Transportation Department said 25 flights in March were stuck on the tarmac for three hours or longer — and four were grounded at least four hours.

New rules that took effect in late April could subject airlines to big fines for holding passengers on a plane longer than three hours without giving them a chance to leave.

The biggest offender in March was SkyWest, with 10 delays of at least three hours. SkyWest operates regional flights for Delta and United.

The airlines reported that one in every 269 passengers had a bag lost, damaged, delayed or stolen in March. That was an improvement over March 2009, when it happened to one in every 236 passengers.

Your chances increased for getting bumped — kicked off a flight even though you held a confirmed reservation because the airline sold too many tickets. For the first three months of this year, the airlines bumped 23,380 passengers, or 1.73 for every 10,000 travelers. That rate is more than one-fourth higher than it was in the first quarter of 2009.

Southwest carries the most U.S. passengers and bumped the highest number of passengers, although four airlines had higher rates of bumping: ExpressJet, Continental, US Airways and — last by a wide margin — American Eagle, the regional affiliate of American Airlines.

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