On-time stats for U.S. airlines tell ugly story

Anyone looking for statistics to show the depth of U.S. air traveler misery so far this year has a lot of choices.

Consider this: The on-time arrival performance of U.S. domestic flights over the first six months of a year has never been this bad, at least since the Transportation Department began compiling comparable figures in 1995, said DOT spokesman Bill Mosley. The DOT defines "on time" as arriving within 15 minutes of schedule.

Consider this, too: DOT data show that on-time performance in June fell to 68.1%. That ranks among the worst months since 1995, but not even as the worst this year, which was 67.3% in February.

And there's more.

" The DOT's Monthly Air Travel Consumer Report listed eight specific flights that never arrived on time in June, with an average late arrival time ranging from 78 to 153 minutes. All told, the DOT listed more than 440 flights that arrived late at least 80% of the time.

(To see which flights, go to http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/reports/atcr07.htm to download the most recent report.)

" Nearly 6% of flights arrived late at least 70% of the time in June, including 23.4% of the flights operated by Delta Connection carrier Atlantic Southeast Airlines.

" U.S. airlines reported a mishandled-baggage rate of 7.34 per 1,000 bags for the first half of 2007, compared with 5.86 in 2006. The rate topped 10 for regional carriers Atlantic Southeast, Mesa, SkyWest, Comair and American Eagle (worst at 14.71).

" Travelers with canceled flights or missed connections may be feeling even more misery than usual.

Many airlines reported their highest load factors ever in July, which means many more flights were completely full with no room to take rebookings.

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