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U.S. Air Travel Consumer Report: March 2020 and 1st Quarter 2020 Numbers

Bureau of Transportation Statistics;

The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its May 2020 Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) on reporting marketing and operating air carrier data compiled for the month of March 2020. 

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency has resulted in significant changes to airline schedules and operations, contributing to airlines’ on-time performance and cancellation statistics in March 2020.  

March On-Time Performance

In March 2020, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 74.7%, down from both the 83.8% on-time rate in February 2020 and from 80.9% in March 2019.

For the first three months of 2020, the reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 80.8%, up from 77.9% for the same period in 2019.

Highest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates March 2020 (ATCR Table 1)

  1. Spirit Airlines – 81.6%
  2. Hawaiian Airlines Network – 81.1%
  3. Alaska Airlines Network – 78.0%

Lowest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates March 2020 (ATCR Table 1)

  1. Allegiant Air – 62.4%
  2. Frontier Airlines – 67.8%
  3. United Airlines Network – 72.0%

March Cancellations

In March 2020, reporting marketing carriers canceled 16.9% of their scheduled domestic flights, a higher rate than both 1.0% in February 2020 and 2.0% in March 2019.  See March Daily Flights for cancellation numbers by day.

For the first three months of 2020, the reporting marketing carriers posted a cancellation rate of 6.7%, up from 2.7% for the same period in 2019.

Lowest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights March 2020 (ATCR Table 6)

  1. Spirit Airlines – 7.4%
  2. Hawaiian Airlines Network – 10.1%
  3. Alaska Airlines Network – 11.7%

Highest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights March 2020 (ATCR Table 6)

  1. Allegiant Air – 24.7%
  2. Frontier Airlines – 21.7%
  3. United Airlines Network – 19.4%

Tarmac Delays

In March 2020, airlines reported one tarmac delay of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to one tarmac delay reported in February 2020 and the five tarmac delays reported in March 2019.  In March 2020, airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to two such tarmac delays reported in both February 2020 and three tarmac delays in March 2019.  Extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.

March Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours (ATCR Table 8)

  1. American Airlines flight 3542 (operated by Envoy Air) from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Joplin, Mo. (JLN) 3/1/20 – delayed 3 hours and 14 minutes on the tarmac at Joplin

There were no additional tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights in March.

March International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours (ATCR Table 8A)

There were no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights in March.

Mishandled Baggage

In March 2020, the reporting marketing carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.41 mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags, a lower rate than the February 2020 rate of 5.05 per 1,000 checked bags and the March 2019 rate of 5.43 per 1,000 checked bags.

For the first quarter of 2020, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 5.08 mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags, compared to first-quarter 2019 rate of 5.89 mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags.

See the May 2020 Air Travel Consumer Report for mishandled baggage numbers by airline.

Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters

In March 2020, reporting marketing airlines reported checking 32,692 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 418, a rate of 1.28% mishandled, compared to the rate of 1.35% mishandled in February 2020 and 1.77% in March 2019.

For the first quarter of 2020, the carriers posted a mishandled wheelchair and scooter rate of 1.38% compared to the first-quarter 2019 rate of 1.85% mishandled.  

See the May 2020 Air Travel Consumer Report for mishandled wheelchair and scooter numbers by airline.

Bumping/Oversales

Bumping/oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, is reported quarterly rather than monthly.  For the first quarter of 2020, the 10 U.S. reporting marketing carriers posted an involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, rate of 0.11 per 10,000 passengers, lower than both the rate of 0.16 for the fourth quarter of 2019 and the rate of 0.32 in the first quarter of 2019. 

See the May 2020 Air Travel Consumer Report for denied boarding numbers by airline.

Incidents Involving Animals

In March 2020, carriers reported one incident involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, equal to the one report filed in March 2019, but down from the two reports filed in February 2020.  The March incident involved the death of one animal. 

Complaints About Airline Service

In March 2020, DOT received 5,064 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 347.3 percent from the total of 1,132 filed in March 2019 and up 326.6 percent from the 1,187 received in February 2020.  For the first quarter of this year, the Department received 7,557 complaints, up 145.6 percent from the 3,077 filed during the first quarter of 2019.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

In March 2020, the Department received a total of 34 disability-related complaints, down from both the 58 complaints received in March 2019 and the 72 complaints received in February 2020.  For the first quarter of this year, the Department received 176 disability-related complaints, up from the total of 167 filed during the first quarter of 2019.   All complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability are investigated by the Department.

Complaints About Discrimination

In March 2020, the Department received six complaints alleging discrimination – five regarding race and one regarding national origin.  This is equal to the total of six discrimination complaints recorded in both March 2019 and in February 2020.  For the first quarter of this year, the Department received 23 discrimination complaints – 15 complaints regarding race, one complaint regarding ancestry/ethnicity, three complaints regarding national origin, three complaints regarding religion, and one complaint categorized as “other.”  This is down from the total of 25 filed during the first quarter of 2019.  All complaints alleging discrimination are investigated by the Department to determine if there has been a violation(s) of the passenger’s civil rights.

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