The U.S. airline industry is currently witnessing a strong rebound. However, with a growing number of flights, passengers, and baggage, the airlines’ operational quality gets back into the spotlight. We took a look at the quality of the operations of U.S. airlines in 2020 and provided you with the most comprehensive benchmark.
After more than a year of travel restrictions and other COVID-related impacts, people are eager to travel —and especially— fly again. However, with more flights, more planes in the air, and crowded airports, operations quality is back on airlines’ radar. That’s why we thought it’s worth looking at 2020’s figures to see which airlines are in a good position to handle the growing traffic.
U.S. Airlines Benchmark — What we Looked at?
The quality of operations is defined by several aspects — and usually aspects that directly impact the passengers and their travel experience. With this benchmark we analyzed the following aspects of U.S. airlines’ operations:
- On-Time Arrivals
- Canceled Flights
- Extreme Delays
- Two-Hour Tarmac Delays
- Mishandled Baggage
- Involuntary Bumping
U.S. Airlines Benchmark — Contents
Here’s an overview of this blog post’s content — in case you want to directly jump to a specific section.
- U.S. Airlines Overall Benchmark Results
- On-Time Arrivals Details
- Canceled Flights Details
- Extreme Delays
- Two-Hour Tarmac Delays Details
- Mishandled Baggage Details
- Involuntary Bumping Details
- Complaints Details
- U.S. Airlines Benchmark Details
U.S. Airlines Benchmark — Overall Results
Before we dive into the details of each operational area, here are the overall results of the U.S. airlines benchmark. For the first time, Southwest Airlines wins the gold medal as best U.S. airline when it comes to operations. Delta Air Lines, which was ranked first in 2018 and 2019, gets second this time. Alaska Airlines also loses one position compared to 2019 and ranks third.
Two of the “Big Three,” United Airlines and American Airlines, are again at the bottom of the list, ranking 8th and 9th. Moreover, jetBlue seems to be in descending channel and loses another position. Frontier Airlines improves its results and ranks sixth.
|Rank||Airline||Rank 2019||Rank 2018|
|2||Delta Air Lines||1||1|
U.S. Airlines Benchmark — Detailed Results
When looking at on-time arrivals, the U.S. airlines benchmark shows a slightly different picture than the overall results. United and American Airlines rank slightly better, whereas Allegiant and jetBlue are at the bottom. Southwest, the overall number one, ranks only fourth when it comes to on-time arrivals.
|1||Delta Air Lines|
Canceled Flights Details
Let’s move on to a very sensitive part of the U.S. airlines benchmark: Canceled flights. Similar to its performance in the area of on-time arrivals, Allegiant again ranks last when it comes to the number of canceled flights. However, even more, interesting to see Southwest at position eight. Having excellent results in almost all other aspects, flight cancellations seem to be the biggest challenge for Southwest Airlines. Alaska Airlines shows excellent results again and ranks 2nd, slightly behind Spirit Airlines.
|4||Delta Air Lines|
Extreme Delays Details
Besides cancellations, extreme delays represent another irregularity that massively impacts passengers’ travel experience. When looking at the benchmark of U.S. airlines, Southwest shows an outstanding performance in this category, followed by Alaska Airlines and Delta. Similar to cancelations, jetBlue and Allegiant are the worst performers.
|3||Delta Air Lines|
Two-Hour Tarmac Delays Details
The aspect of Two-Hour Tarmac Delays seems to be the biggest challenge for Delta Air Lines when looking at benchmark data. Although Delta ranks very well in almost all other areas, they are at the bottom of the list in this field. On the contrary, Allegiant: As shown, the airline performs worst concerning on-time arrivals, extreme delays, and canceled flights — however, the carrier shows an outstanding performance in this category.
|9||Delta Air Lines|
Mishandled Baggage Details
Mishandled baggage represents the next part of the operations benchmark. Similar to tarmac delays, Allegiant and Southwest Airlines are the top-performers of all U.S. airlines. United Airlines and American Airlines are at the bottom of the list, showing huge deficits when it comes to mishandled baggage.
|4||Delta Air Lines|
Involuntary Bumping Details
With the next part of the U.S. airlines operations benchmark, we take a detailed look into involuntary bumping. Delta Air Lines tops this part of the benchmark followed by Allegiant. Moreover, it is the only area where United Airlines ranks better than position six. American Airlines, once again, can be found at the bottom of the list.
|1||Delta Air Lines|
With the last part of the U.S. airlines operations benchmark, we take a look at complaint handling. Southwest, Delta and Allegiant are the top performers in this field, whereas Frontier seems to have bigger issues when it comes to complaints. For American Airlines, this field represents their best results of the benchmark.
|2||Delta Air Lines|
U.S. Airlines Benchmark Details
Finally, here’s the complete overview of the U.S. airlines benchmark containing all of the discussed areas.
|Airline||Overall||On-time Arrivals||Canceled Flights||Extreme Delays||2-Hour Tarmac Delay||Mishandled Baggage||Involuntary Bumping||Complaints|
What’s Your Opinion?
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Data Source: All data shown on this blog post are based on internal sources or the Wall Street Journal.