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While we may have to live with flight delays this summer, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to 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. So far, no airline has had a perfect record this summer, but in a climate where the US’s underperforming airlines have experienced delays of between a quarter and a third of all their flights, choosing the right airline could really or break your trip.
Luckily for travelers, we have a rundown of which airlines have had the most departures on time over the past few months – and which have subjected their passengers to the most delays. Here’s a look at which four airlines are best for avoiding flight delays, and which airlines to avoid overall.
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 carrier has eclipsed some of its peers as just 19% of its flights were delayed in May and 21% faced a delay in June. While those numbers may sound high, the worst-performing airline these months, JetBlue, had an average percentage of delayed flights of over 30%, meaning one in three of their flights didn’t depart on time — that’s a lot of disgruntled travelers.
Delta’s comparatively good performance came at the expense of travelers as thousands of flights were removed from the airline’s route network to ensure it could continue to provide high levels of service — a move that seems to have paid off for the country’s second largest airline. While flying Delta doesn’t guarantee an on-time departure, travelers currently have more chances of a seamless flight experience than any other airline in the United States.
Not far behind Delta was United Airlines, which has consistently experienced the second-lowest number of delays of any US airline in recent months. In May and June, just 23% of all the airline’s flights were delayed — far fewer than the second-worst airline, Southwest, which delayed 30% of its flights last month. Despite their solid performance, United have stated that a significant chunk of their delays weren’t really their fault.
Just last week, United’s chief operating officer, Jon Roitman, blamed air traffic control staffing problems for the airline’s high percentage of delays.
“We estimate that over 50% of our delay minutes and 75% of our cancellations over the past four months are due to FAA traffic management initiatives — these have been particularly acute in Newark and Florida,” Roitman said, before adding, “These ATC challenges can’t.” not only disrupt the schedule but also result in us wasting crew time throughout the month.”
Air traffic problems or not, United are one of the safest bets when it comes to avoiding delays this summer.
Spirit and Alaska
On the heels of United and Delta are Spirit Airlines and Alaska Airlines. So far this month, both airlines have recorded relatively low delay rates, while on July 3 and 4 they posted some impressive on-time performance numbers of 80% and 81%, respectively — the second-highest and third-highest overall of any airline in the US, behind only Delta. Having weathered the busy Fourth of July holiday season so well, Spirit and Alaska are likely smart choices for travelers looking to avoid delays this summer.
On the other side of the coin, there are some airlines that you should avoid if possible if you want to get to your destination on time. Allegiant Airlines saw up to 39% of its flights being delayed on July 3 and 4, and JetBlue was close behind with 36% of its flights. The third worst airline was Southwest, which experienced 29% of its flights being delayed over the same period.
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