Though it feels like airports are ever more crowded and flight schedules are in disarray around the holidays, it seems that December 2011 was a pretty good month for airline punctuality, as Decembers go.
In the last month of 2011, the U.S. DOT recorded the best on-time flight arrival percentage for that month since it began keeping records 17 years ago.
According to data released this week, the 16 airlines reporting data posted an average 84.4 percent on-time arrival record (up from 72 percent in December 2010). The airlines recording the highest percentage of on-time arrivals were AirTran Airways (91.9 percent), Hawaiian Airlines (91.0 percent) and Delta Airlines (88.5 percent). The lowest on-time percentage among the reporting airlines belonged to Continental Airlines (79.8 percent), ExpressJet Airlines (76.3 percent), and Frontier Airlines (73.2 percent).
The only thing worse than a delayed flight is, of course, a canceled flight. To that end, the airlines with the lowest rates of canceled flights in December were Hawaiian Airlines (0 percent - two canceled flights), Frontier Airlines (0.2 percent), and JetBlue Airways (0.2 percent). On the flip side, those with the most canceled flights in December were SkyWest Airlines (2.2 percent), ExpressJet Airlines (1.5 percent), and American Eagle Airlines (1.2 percent).
The monthly Air Travel Consumer Report also indicates that there were no domestic flights of more than three hours in December, and no international flights with tarmac delays of more than four hours in December.
It also seems that the on-time percentages for 2011 as a whole were not too far off from December's numbers, at an average of 79.6 percent). Hawaiian Airlines topped the list (92.8 percent), followed by Alaskan Airlines (88.2 percent) and AirTran Airways (84.4 percent). Trailing the pack for 2011 were Atlantic Southeast Airlines (75.2 percent), ExpressJet Airlines (74.7 percent), and JetBlue Airways (73.3 percent).
Photo: Phillip Capper