The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) on airline operational data compiled for the month of November 2021 for on-time performance, mishandled baggage, mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, complaints received, and oversales. The ATCR is designed to assist consumers with information on the quality of services provided by airlines.
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to result in significant changes to airline schedules and operations in November 2021. The 573,134 flights operated in November 2021 were 88.2% of the 649,511 flights operated in pre-pandemic November 2019.
Operated flights in November 2021 were up 47.9% year-over-year from the 387,481 flights operated in November 2020 and down 1.7% month-over-month from the 582,759 flights operated in October 2021.
In November 2021, the 10 marketing network carriers reported 576,693 scheduled domestic flights, 3,559 (0.6 %) of which were canceled. In November 2020, the same airlines reported 389,587 scheduled domestic flights, 2,016 (0.5%) of which were canceled. In pre-pandemic November 2019, airlines reported 692,944 scheduled domestic flights, 6,133 (0.8%) of which were canceled. In October 2021, airlines scheduled 655,072 domestic flights, of which 5,561 (0.8%) were canceled.
In November 2021, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 84.3%, up from 79.9% in October 2021 but down from 91.7% in November 2020.
Highest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates October 2021 (ATCR Table 1)
1. Hawaiian Airlines – 93.1%
2. Delta Air Lines Network – 89.5%
3. United Airlines Network – 85.3%
Lowest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates October 2021 (ATCR Table 1)
1. Allegiant Air – 67.3%
2. JetBlue Airways – 77.3%
3. Frontier Airlines – 79.9%
In November 2021, reporting marketing carriers canceled 0.6% of their scheduled domestic flights, lower than the rate of 0.8% in October 2021 but higher than the 0.5% in November 2020.
Lowest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights October 2021 (ATCR Table 6)
1. Delta Air Lines Network – 0.0%
2. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.1%
3. JetBlue Airways – 0.1%
Highest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights October 2021 (ATCR Table 6)
1. Allegiant Air – 1.7%
2. Alaska Airlines– 1.2%
3. American Airlines Network – 1.1%
In November 2021, airlines reported 2 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to 0 tarmac delays reported in October 2021 and 0 tarmac delays reported in November 2020. In November 2021, airlines reported 2 tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to 0 tarmac delays reported in October 2021 and 2 tarmac delays in November 2020.
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.
Extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.
In November 2021, reporting marketing carriers handled more than 37 million bags and posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.60 mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags, a lower rate than the October 2021 rate of 5.28 per 1,000 checked bags but higher than the November 2020 rate of 3.04 per 1,000 checked bags.
Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters
In November 2021, reporting marketing carriers reported checking 49,468 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 855, a rate of 1.73% mishandled, higher than both the rate of 1.36% mishandled in October 2021 and the rate of 1.22% mishandled in November 2020.
The rate of 1.73% mishandled wheelchairs and scooters in November 2021 is the highest mishandled monthly rate for wheelchairs and scooters since March 2019 and the third highest rate since the Department released the first set of mishandled wheelchair and scooter data in December 2018. The Department is committed to expediting efforts to find ways to better ensure the safe transport of wheelchairs and scooters on aircraft and will be hosting a public meeting on this issue in March 2022.
Bumping/oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly.
For the third quarter of 2021, the 10 U.S. reporting marketing carriers posted an involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, rate of 0.16 per 10,000 passengers, lower than the rate of 0.17 in the second quarter of 2021 as well as in the third quarter of 2020.
Incidents Involving Animals
In November 2021, carriers reported one incident involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, up from the zero reports filed in both October 2021 and in November 2020. November 2021’s incident involved injury to one animal.
Complaints About Airline Service
In November 2021, DOT received 3,543 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 7.5% from the 3,832 received in October 2021, and down 5.8% from the total of 3,763 filed in November 2020. Of the 3,543 complaints received in November 2021, 1,504 (42.4%) were against U.S. carriers, 1,493 (42.1%) were against foreign air carriers, and 543 (15.3%) were against travel companies.
Also, of the 3,543 complaints received, 1,713 (48.3%) concerned refunds. The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection continues to communicate with airlines and travel companies that receive refund complaints to ensure compliance with the refund requirements. Many passengers who had initially been denied refunds have received the required refunds. The Department has taken and will take enforcement action against noncompliant airlines and ticket agents as necessary.
Flight problems was the second highest category of the complaints received in November 2021. Of the 3,543 complaints received, 553 (15.6%) concerned cancellations, delays, or other deviations from airlines’ schedules. The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection routinely contacts airlines with widespread cancellations or delays to remind them of their obligation to promptly refund passengers who choose not to accept the alternative offered for a canceled or significantly changed flight. Airlines are also required to have and adhere to a customer service plan that identifies the services that the airline provides to mitigate passenger inconveniences resulting from flight cancellations and misconnections. The Department monitors airlines’ actions and reviews complaints that it receives against airlines to ensure that consumers’ rights are not violated.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
In November 2021, the Department received a total of 146 disability-related complaints, down from the 157 complaints received in October 2021, but up from the 40 complaints received in November 2020.
Complaints About Discrimination
In November 2021, the Department received 17 complaints alleging discrimination – seven complaints regarding race, four complaints regarding ancestry/ethnicity, two complaints regarding national origin, one complaint regarding religion, and three complaints regarding sexual discrimination. This is up from both the 11 complaints received in October 2021 and from the two complaints received in November 2020.