The DOT Air Travel Consumer Report is out with December numbers, and US Airways landed the best on-time performance of all mainland carriers. (I always leave those Hawaiian carriers and their good weather out of the mix.) US Airways? Really?!? That may sound incredible, but there’s actually a lot more to this story.
How well did they do? They finished the month with 74.5% of flights arriving with 15 minutes of scheduled arrival time. That doesn’t sound particularly impressive until you see that the rest of the industry fell of a cliff.
Pretty ugly stuff, huh? US Airways did a very good job of holding their own here, but they really benefited from their hub locations. For once, the Northeast wasn’t the big problem, well, except for New York/LaGuardia which was terrible as usual. Really, Chicago/O’Hare, Minneapolis/St Paul, and Denver were the hardest hit by weather that month, and they took the biggest hit in on-time performance. It’s no coincidence that American (with a hub at O’Hare), Northwest (with a hub at Minneapolis), and United (with hubs at Denver and O’Hare) fell to the bottom of the pack and dragged the average down with them.
But let’s not completely take away the achievement by US Airways here. They’ve dramatically improved their on-time percentage against the industry over the last year. This next graph charts the difference between US Airways and the industry in a way that makes it easier to see how well they’ve actually done.
You can tell that February is where things really started to nosedive. It wasn’t until July or August that they were back in the same ballpark as the rest of the industry. But November and December actually had them finish above the average, and that’s something worth celebrating. Since they finished at the top, employees will each get a $50 bonus check. That’s enough to pay the hidden usairways.com booking fee on 10 whole tickets.
Seriously though, this is a nice trend to see. If they can keep this up (they’ve said January domestic numbers at at 79.5%) and get their baggage numbers in shape, maybe they’ll finally be able to pull out of the cellar of the complaints category.