The nation’s largest airlines reported only one flight in August with a tarmac delay of more than three hours, compared to 66 flights in August 2009, with no change in the rate of canceled flights, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
Data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) showed the only tarmac delay longer than three hours reported in August by the 18 airlines that file on-time performance with DOT involved a United Airlines flight departing the San Juan airport on Aug. 5 that was diverted. August was the fourth full month of data since the new aviation consumer rule went into effect on April 29. There were only eight total tarmac delays of more than three hours from May through August this year, compared to 529 during the same four-month period of 2009. BTS is a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).
The largest carriers canceled 1.0 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in August, matching the 1.0 percent cancellation rate of August 2009. They posted a 1.4 percent cancellation rate in July 2010.
“These numbers show that the tarmac delay rule is protecting passengers from being trapped indefinitely aboard an airplane – with little or no increase in canceled flights,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “Also, it shows that the hard work the airlines are putting into implementing the rule is paying off. With the summer travel season behind us, it appears that the rule is working as planned.”
The new tarmac delay rule prohibits U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations. The Department will investigate tarmac delays that exceed this limit.
The monthly report also includes data on on-time performance, chronically delayed flights, flight cancellations and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department by the reporting carriers. In addition, it has information on airline bumping, reports of mishandled baggage filed by consumers with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. This report also includes reports of incidents involving pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.
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