U.S. Airlines having their worst summer for delays – tips for finding flights that arrive on time

If you have flown this summer, you may have experienced delays or canceled flights. In fact, airlines in the U.S. are having what is considered to be their worst summer in terms of delayed and canceled flights. The average delay this summer is apparently around 51 minutes — five minutes longer than the same time last summer.

American Airlines has had one of the worst records for delays, mainly because of the weather in the Dallas area — American has its largest hub in Dallas/Fort Worth. In fact, the period from May 1st to June 30th was the wettest period at the airport since 1898 with almost 20 inches of rain.

Sometimes it seems the airlines can’t win — they are just as vulnerable to potential bad weather during the winter months in hubs such as Chicago, Minneapolis and New York. Some airlines are making it a little bit easier to assist passengers affected by hurricanes as well — American introduced a “hurricane policy” last week which offers more options and flexibility to passengers whose flight is canceled in the event of a hurricane.

There may be some relief in sight. The FAA has devised a plan to restructure the airspace over the major airports on the east coast — a move that would supposedly reduce delays by about 20%.

It’s even difficult to define a delay — officially a flight is delayed if it arrives more than 15 minutes from its scheduled arrival time. Airlines also tend to adjust their schedules or “stretch” the flying time to ensure that flights will arrive within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.

There are some things you can do to minimize air travel delays. Firstly, you can obtain statistics on how often a particular flight is delayed. All airline reservations agents have this information and must supply it when asked. (The Department of Transportation imposes big fines on the airlines if they don’t tell you this when asked) For example, the airline may tell you that the 11am flight from Chicago to Miami arrives on time between 71% and 80% of the time).

Experts also advise that you avoid connecting flights if possible, and book yourself on a flight early in the day. The early flights out are generally less prone to delays — which tend to occur later in the day, especially during the summer in the form of late afternoon or evening thunderstorms. That way, there’s more chance of you — and your bags — making it on time.

Only another few weeks of summer to go — before we know it, all the delays will be caused by winter weather!

Gues entry by Mancunian

Related entry: Are US Airlines broken?

Speaking of flying, in two days I have a 6:40 AM flight with Spirit Air from New York to Punta Cana (via Miami). Wish me luck!

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  1. Ron says:

    Lately United Airlines is behaving like a start-up budget carrier with issues galore and no reliability. Canceled flights with little advance notice, a horrificly rude call center in India, and maintenance issues (fuel gauge, hydraulic readings) on 1st-in-themorning flights that should’ve been checked out the night before. I live in Denver, and will AVOID United even though it’s kinda-sorta my hometown airline. Horrific customer service and attitude (contempt for its passengers) on top of that, I’m done with United. Beware.

  2. louise hebert says:

    Ias flying to Peoria Ill from houston(hobby)airport, got on the plane at 11am had to wait while it stormed in Atlanta 2 1/2 hours missed my concetion at atlanta, waited 6 hours then the lady said i was on standby. We got to Peoria at 11pm, my ride had to come to the airport 2 times and they lived 45 miles from the airport. It was a horrible trip as i am 75 years old and not in to good of health. This was flying Delta and i will never fly with them again.

  3. Sharon says:

    Northwest is also having its share of problems with cancellations of flights due to pilot shortages, etc. Hopefully, they’re not on their way out (again), as I’ve found them to be one of the better airlines in terms of customer service, ontime arrivals and departures. I flew with them last year to a writers’ conference in Ohio, with no delays at either end, and an excellent hostess onboard.

    Looking forward to hearing about Spirit and the Punta Cana resort…enjoy..and good luck!

  4. Barb says:

    Just back from flight with United. If we had a choice, would change flight to Alaska. United is very unorganized and even though we had early morning flights, no lay overs, we were still more than three hours late each way.

  5. Dave/Dale says:

    Just back from flying Delta. No way would we do that airline again. Late leaving Chicago, missed connection in Cinninnati, arrived 7 hours late to Ca.. On the way back, again all the delayed flights, and late again. Very unresponsible

  6. alsky says:

    Delta is usually our favorite airline. I find them to be more reliable than most others. In my opinion, Us Airways is the worst. I have problems EVERY time I fly with them and they are totally unorganized. I just got back from New York (UsAir) and my return flight was cancelled. They told me I would have to wait until the next day until I said that I had no place to stay. Then, “miraculously,” they found me a (delayed) flight, but I made it home.

  7. Ray Anderson says:

    Our favorite plane delay occured on a non-stop flight from Maui to San Francisco.

    As we prepared to fly from Maui, the stewardess came on the speaker to announce we needed more fuel and would make a short stop first in Honolulu.

    We never saw a fuel truck but we did see new passengers get on the (suppose to be non-stop flight) plane in Honolulu.

    So we ended up with the cheaper route, stopping in Honolulu, at the higher non-stop price. And only two hours late.

  8. Bud Glass says:

    I think it is time for the U.S. government to allow foreign air carriers to fly domestic routes. I have flown on foreign airlines internationally and every time, the flight arrived on time, and even early occasionally. U.S. airlines are late, lose luggage too often, cut back on services such as meals and are rude to passengers. U.S. airlines need the competition so they will be forced to improve.

  9. Hannah Garbacz says:

    I am a budget flyer myself, but I know that the airlines are only responding to our cues. We tell them we want to pay less, at a time when costs are only getting higher. Something had to go, and customer service and flight delays are part of that trend. Weather delays, on the other hand, are just bad luck. I’ll be flying out of DFW on a Tuesday afternoon in a couple of weeks. Here’s hoping everything goes smoothly!

  10. C. Marz says:

    Weather and OHare – Each an ill to the industry. Combine the two on any given day – Lethal to the whole Industry. The Domino Effect kicks into high gear.

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