WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today released its Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) on airline operational data compiled for the month of June 2023 and the first six months of 2023 for on-time performance, mishandled baggage, mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, and second quarter oversales.
The ATCR is designed to assist consumers with information on the quality of services provided by airlines. DOT remains committed to ensuring airline passengers are treated fairly and flights operate as scheduled. For the first six months of 2023, 1.6% of flights have been canceled, far below the 3.2% cancellation rate for the first six months of last year and the 2.4% cancellation rate for first six months of pre-pandemic 2019.
DOT uses the data from the ATCR, consumer complaints, and other information it secures from the airlines to inform its enforcement activities and the adequacy of existing rules.
This year, DOT has already issued the largest fines in the history of the consumer protection office primarily based on complaints received. Since the pandemic began, the Department has helped return more than $2.5 billion in refunds to travelers.
The Department is also enhancing consumer protections through rulemakings and other activities. After a two-year DOT push to improve the passenger experience, the 10 largest airlines now guarantee meals and free rebooking on the same airline and nine guarantee hotel accommodations as part of the Department’s Airline Customer Service Dashboard. DOT expanded the user-friendly dashboard at FlightRights.Gov to highlight which airlines, if any, offer cash compensation, provide travel credits or vouchers, or award frequent flyer miles when they cause flight delays or cancellations. In May, DOT announced plans to launch a new rulemaking that would propose to make passenger compensation and amenities mandatory so that travelers are taken care of when airlines cause flight delays or cancellations, such as staffing issues or mechanical problems.
Further, earlier this year, President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg pressed airlines to commit to fee-free family seating. Before their urging, no airline committed to guaranteeing fee-free family seating. Now three airlines have committed to guaranteeing fee-free family seating, and DOT is pursuing a rulemaking that would require all airlines to do so. Secretary Buttigieg also submitted to Congress a legislative proposal to require that airlines provide fee-free family seating.
To further assist consumers in assessing airline family seating commitments, in March 2023, DOT rolled out a new family seating dashboard that highlights the airlines that guarantee fee-free family seating, and those that do not, making it easier for parents to avoid paying junk fees to sit with their children when they fly.
The 600,721 flights operated in June 2023 were 102.94% of the 583,584 flights operated in June 2022. Operated flights in June 2023 were up 2.94% year-over-year from the 583,584 flights operated in June 2022 and down 1.97% month-over-month from 612,797 flights operated in May 2023.
In June 2023, the 10 marketing network carriers reported 613,577 scheduled domestic flights, 12,856 (2.1%) of which were canceled. In May 2023, airlines scheduled 616,630 domestic flights, of which 3,833 (0.6%) were canceled. In June 2022, airlines scheduled 602,057 domestic flights, of which 18,473 (3.1%) were canceled.
June 2023 On-Time Arrival
In June 2023, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 71.3% down from both 81.2% in May 2023 and 73.5% in June 2022. The year-to-date on-time arrival rate for 2023 is 76.5%.
Highest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates June 2023 (ATCR Table 1)
- Alaska Airlines Network – 79.4%
- Delta Air Lines Network – 77.8%
- Hawaiian Airlines – 77.4%
Lowest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates June 2023 (ATCR Table 1)
- Frontier Airlines – 53.7%
- Spirit Airlines – 58.8%
- JetBlue Airways – 60.8%
For the first six months of 2023, the reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 76.48%, up from 75.94% for the same period in 2022.
June 2023 Flight Cancellations
In June 2023, reporting marketing carriers canceled 2.1% of their scheduled domestic flights, higher than the rate 0.6% in May 2023 and lower than 3.1% in June 2022.
Lowest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights June 2023 (ATCR Table 6)
- Alaska Airlines Network – 0.3%
- Allegiant Air – 0.6%
- Southwest Airlines – 0.6%
Highest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights June 2023 (ATCR Table 6)
- United Airlines Network – 4.5%
- Frontier Airlines – 3.9%
- JetBlue Airways – 3.5%
For the first six months of 2023, the reporting marketing carriers posted a cancellation rate of 1.6%, down from 3.2% for the same period in 2022.
Complaints About Airline Service
The Department continues to receive a high volume of air travel service complaints against airlines and ticket agents and its Office of Aviation Consumer Protection is processing them. . The release of consumer complaint data in the ATCR has been delayed primarily because of the time needed to review and process these consumer complaints. The Department is examining how best to review and process the consumer complaints received to avoid reporting delays as it is increasingly clear that consumer complaints are not returning to pre-pandemic levels.
In June 2023, airlines reported 74 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to three tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights reported in May 2023. In June 2023, airlines reported 14 tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to two tarmac delays reported in May 2023.
Airlines are required to have and adhere to assurances that they will not allow aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights without providing passengers the option to deplane, subject to exceptions related to safety, security, and Air Traffic Control related reasons. An exception also exists for departure delays if the airline begins to return the aircraft to a suitable disembarkation point to deplane passengers by those times.
The Department investigates extended tarmac delays.
In June 2023, reporting marketing carriers handled 43.4 million bags and posted a mishandled baggage rate of 0.70%, higher than the rate of 0.51% in May 2023 and lower than the rate of 0.71% in June 2022.
For the first half of 2023, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 0.61%, lower than the rate of 0.63% posted in the first half of 2022.
The Department began displaying the mishandled baggage data as a percentage (i.e., per 100 bags enplaned) in January 2022. This is consistent with the manner that the mishandled wheelchairs and scooters rate is calculated and displayed.
In the prior three calendar year reports (2019 to 2021), the Department calculated the mishandled baggage rate based on the number of mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags.
Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters
In June 2023, reporting marketing carriers reported checking 77,661 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 1,126 for a rate of 1.45% mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, higher than the rate of 1.27% mishandled in May 2023 and lower than the rate of 1.68% mishandled in June 2022.
For the first half of 2023, the carriers posted a mishandled wheelchair and scooter rate of 1.37%, lower than the rate of 1.52% posted in the first half of 2022.
Bumping/oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly.
For the second quarter of 2023, the 10 U.S. reporting marketing carriers posted an involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, rate of 0.36 per 10,000 passengers, higher than the rate of 0.30 in the first quarter of 2023 and equal to the rate of 0.36 in the second quarter of 2022.
Incidents Involving Animals
In June 2023, carriers reported one incident involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, higher than the zero reports filed in May 2023 and equal to the one report filed in June 2022.
Consumers may file air travel consumer or civil rights complaints online at http://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm or by voicemail at (202) 366-2220, or they may mail a complaint to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590.
The ATCR and other aviation consumer matters of interest to the public can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer.