How December Storms Led To Late Flights Across The U.S.

Feb 11 2014, 3:33pm CST | by

How December Storms Led To Late Flights Across The U.S.

People in the United States disagree on a lot of things, but there’s pretty much universal agreement that this has been a miserable few months for air travel. The airlines barely got through the Thanksgiving season when storms hit in December, disrupting travel for business and leisure travelers alike. Now, the Transportation Department has some sorry statistics on what happened at  airports in the final month of 2013.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, only 59.1 percent of flights at Chicago Midway Airport arrived on time in December, the worst performance among 29 airports tracked by the Transportation Department (Arrival numbers are considered the best gauge of airport and airline performance, since planes can often make up for late departures after they take off.)

In fact, 13 of the nation’s airports reported that fewer than 70 percent of flights arrived on time during December. A year ago, there were just two airports where planes arrived at a rate below 70 percent. And the worst of the airports in December 2012, San Francisco, had a 63.89 percent on time rate, or more than four percentage points better than Midway, the worst airport this year.

On a brighter note, Miami led airports with an on-time arrival performance of 78.3 percent, followed by Detroit, at 76.9 percent, even though the Motor City had its share of bad December weather.

Figures for January won’t be in for a while, but they’re also likely to be dismal. Ice and snow storms forced delays and cancellations across the country, from New England and the Great Lakes to the South, especially in Atlanta, home to the nation’s biggest airport. The only solace is that January air travel is typically less hectic once the New Year’s holiday is over.

In December, Chicago’s O’Hare International airport shared the unhappy crown with Boston Logan Airport for the number of  flights with tarmac delays of four hours or more. Airlines can be fined when planes wait at the airport that long before takeoff. In December, there were 10 domestic flights and four international flights where passengers sat, and sat. The long delays took place on Dec. 8 at O’Hare, and Dec. 17 at Logan, according to BTS.

In December, there were 773 flights in the United States that were more than 30 minutes late, or canceled more than 50 percent of the time. The most delayed flight was Southwest Flight 589 from Chicago Midway to Denver. It was 30 minutes late or canceled 92.86 percent of the time. The flight operated 28 times during the month, and each time, it average 74 minutes late (in other words, an hour and 14 minutes).

The Transportation Department also issued its airport statistics for all of 2013, which gives a good idea of how the destinations performed throughout the year. In first place, with the best on-time arrival record: Salt Lake City, with 85 percent on time arrivals. The lowest among the 29 airports: Newark, where 70.3 percent of flights arrived on time. Both those airports placed in the same spots in 2012.

Overall, 78.3 percent of planes arrived on time at the nation’s airports in 2013. If you think of it in terms of odds, you had a four out of five chance of getting to your airport on time last year. Of course, it’s always that one late flight that you remember.

10 Stress Reducing Travel Strategies For 2014

Source: Forbes Business


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