Air Travel Consumer Report: April 2021 Numbers
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its June 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) on airline operational data compiled for the month of April 2021. The ATCR is designed to assist consumers with information on the quality of services provided by airlines. The ATCR and other aviation consumer matters of interest to the public can be found at http://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in significant changes to airline schedules and operations in April 2021, although airlines scheduled and operated more flights in April 2021 than any month since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
The total number of flights operated in April 2021 have not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels but have increased significantly since the all-time monthly low of 180,151 flights in May 2020. Flights operated in April 2021(471,375) were more than double the flights operated in April 2020 (194,390) but 72% of the flights operated in April 2019 (652,533).
In April 2021, the 10 marketing network carriers reported 473,936 scheduled domestic flights, 2,561 (0.5%) of which were canceled, and 471,375 of which were operated. At the start of the pandemic in April 2020, airlines reported 331,238 scheduled domestic flights, 136,848 (41.3%) of which were canceled, and 194,390 of which were operated. In pre-pandemic April 2019, airlines reported 668,259 scheduled domestic flights, 15,726 (2.3%) of which were canceled, and 652,533 of which were operated.
When compared to the prior month, April 2021 saw a 0.8% decrease in flight cancellations and 2.2% increase in flights operated.
April On-Time Performance
In April 2021, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 88.7%, up from both 88.5% in March 2021 and 55.7% in April 2020.
Highest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates April 2021 (ATCR Table 1)
- Delta Air Lines Network – 92.5%
- Hawaiian Airlines – 91.4%
- American Airlines Network – 90.3%
Lowest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates April 2021 (ATCR Table 1)
- Spirit Airlines – 76.1%
- Allegiant Air – 79.4%
- Frontier Airlines – 81.4%
In April 2021, reporting marketing carriers canceled 0.5% of their scheduled domestic flights, a lower rate than 1.3% in March 2021 and 41.3% in April 2020.
Lowest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights April 2021 (ATCR Table 6)
- Hawaiian Airlines – 0.1%
- United Airlines Network – 0.3%
- Delta Air Lines Network – 0.3%
Highest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights March 2021 (ATCR Table 6)
- Spirit Airlines – 1.6%
- Allegiant Air – 1.5%
- Frontier Airlines – 0.9%
In April 2021, airlines reported two tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to one tarmac delay reported in March 2021 and no tarmac delays reported in April 2020. In April 2021, airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to no tarmac delays reported in March 2021 and no tarmac delays in April 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. Extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.
In April 2021, the reporting marketing carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.26 mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags, a lower rate than the March 2021 rate of 3.58 per 1,000 checked bags and the April 2020 rate of 4.23 per 1,000 checked bags.
Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters
In April 2021, reporting marketing airlines reported checking 37,635 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 424, a rate of 1.13% mishandled, higher than the rate of 1.12% mishandled in March 2021 and equal to the rate of 1.13% in April 2020. In April 2020, the airlines checked 2,927 wheelchairs and scooters, mishandling 33.
Bumping/oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly. First quarter 2021 bumping/oversales data were released in the May 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report. Second quarter 2021 bumping/oversales data will be available in the August 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report.
Incidents Involving Animals
In April 2021, carriers reported no incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, equal to the zero reports filed in March 2021 and down from the one report filed in April 2020.
Complaints About Airline Service
In April 2021, DOT received 3,462 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 9.6% from the 3,831 received in March 2021, and down 82.6% from the total of 19,900 filed in April 2020. Of the 3,462 complaints received in April 2021, 1,136 (32.8%) were against U.S. carriers, 1,684 (43.9%) were against foreign air carriers, and 641 (18.5%) were against travel companies. Also, of the 3,462 complaints received, 2,351 (67.9%) concerned refunds.
The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection continues to communicate with airlines and travel companies that received a large number of refund complaints to ensure compliance with the refund requirements. Many passengers who had initially been denied refunds have received the required refunds. The Department will take enforcement action against noncompliant airlines and ticket agents as necessary.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
In April 2021, the Department received a total of 99 disability-related complaints, up from both the 49 complaints received in March 2021 and the 15 complaints received in April 2020.
The Air Carrier Access Act and the Department’s implementing regulation prohibit discrimination by airlines against individuals on the basis of disability. All complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability are investigated by the Department.
Complaints About Discrimination
In April 2021, the Department received 10 complaints alleging discrimination – eight complaints regarding race, one complaint regarding ancestry/ethnicity, and one complaint regarding color. This is down from the 11 complaints received in March 2021 and up from the two complaints received in April 2020.
Federal law prohibits discrimination in air transportation by airlines on the basis of a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, or sex. The Department investigates all complaints that it receives alleging discrimination.
Consumers may file air travel consumer or civil rights complaints online at http://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm or by voicemail at (202) 366-2220, or they may mail a complaint to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590.