Whilst flight delays may be something we have to learn to live with this summer, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to help minimize the risk of them happening – and there are four airlines in particular that are your best bet when it comes to looking to avoid delays. No airlines have a perfect record so far this summer, but in a climate where the worst performing airlines in the US have experienced delays on between a quarter and a third of all of their flights, choosing the right airline to fly with really could make or break your trip.
Fortunately for travelers, we have the low-down on which airlines have been taking off on time most frequently over the last few months – and which have been subjecting their passengers to the most delays. Here’s a look at which four airlines are best when it comes to avoiding flight delays, and which airlines you should be looking to avoid altogether.
Delta has been one of the best performing airlines in the US over the past few months when it comes to avoiding delays. The Atlanta-based airline has put some of its rivals to shame, with only 19% of its flights delayed in May and 21% facing a delay in June. Whilst these figures may sound high, the worst performing airline for those months, JetBlue, featured an average percentage of delayed flights that was above 30%, meaning that one in three of their flights failed to leave on time – that’s a lot of angry travelers.
Delta’s comparatively good performance has come at a cost to travelers, as thousands of flights were trimmed from the airline’s route network in order to ensure they could continue to offer a high level of service – a move that looks to have paid off for the country’s second largest airline. Whilst flying Delta doesn’t guarantee an on-time departure, it gives travelers more of a chance of a smooth flight experience than any other airline in the US at present.
Not far behind Delta were United Airlines, who consistently posted the second lowest delay figures of any US airlines over the past few months. May and June saw just 23% of the airline’s total flights delayed – significantly lower than the second worst performing airline Southwest, who had 30% of their flight delayed last month. Despite their solid performance, United have stated that a significant portion of their delays weren’t actually their fault.
Just last week, United’s Chief Operating Officer Jon Roitman blamed the airline’s high delay percentage on air traffic control staffing problems.
“We estimate that over 50% of our delay minutes and 75% of our cancels in the past four months were because of FAA traffic management initiatives – those have been particularly acute in Newark and Florida,” Roitman said, before adding: “These ATC challenges can not only disrupt the schedule, but they also cause us to burn crew time throughout the month.”
Air traffic issues or not, United are one of the safest bets when it comes to avoiding delays this summer.
Spirit and Alaska
Hot on the heels of United and Delta are Spirit Airlines and Alaska Airlines. So far this month, both airlines have seen relatively low delay rates, whilst posting some impressive on-time performance figures of 80% and 81% respectively over the 3rd and 4th of July – the second and third highest totals of any airlines in the US, behind only Delta. Having coped so well throughout the hectic Fourth of July holiday period, Spirit and Alaska are likely to be wise picks for travelers looking to avoid delays this summer.
On the other side of the coin, there are some airlines that should be avoided where possible if you’re looking to get to your destination on time. Allegiant Airlines saw as many as 39% of their flights delayed over July 3rd and 4th, and JetBlue close behind with 36% of their flights delayed. The third worst performing airline was Southwest, who saw 29% of their flights delayed over the same period.
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