Air Travel Consumer Report: August 2021 Numbers
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its October 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) on airline operational data compiled for the month of August 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 COVID-19 pandemic continued to result in significant changes to airline schedules and operations in August 2021. The 592,760 flights operated in August 2021 were 84.1% of the 704,553 flights operated in pre-pandemic August 2019.
Operated flights in August 2021 were up 50.4% year-over-year from the 394,143 flights operated in August 2020 and down 2.1% month-over-month from the 605,508 flights operated in July 2021.
In August 2021, the 10 marketing network carriers reported 611,494 scheduled domestic flights, 18,734 (3.06 %) of which were canceled. In August 2020, the same airlines reported 398,470 scheduled domestic flights, 4,327 (1.09%) of which were canceled. In pre-pandemic August 2019, airlines reported 717,456 scheduled domestic flights, 12,903 (1.80%) of which were canceled. In July 2021, airlines scheduled 615,703 domestic flights, of which 10,195 (1.66%) were canceled.
August On-Time Performance
In August 2021, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 74.3%, up from 73.4% in July 2021 and down from 91.0% in August 2020.
Highest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates August 2021 (ATCR Table 1)
- Hawaiian Airlines – 90.5%
- Delta Air Lines Network – 85.7%
- Alaska Airlines Network – 81.0%
Lowest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates August 2021 (ATCR Table 1)
- Spirit Airlines – 61.1%
- Allegiant Air – 64.1%
- JetBlue Airways – 66.0%
In August 2021, reporting marketing carriers canceled 3.1% of their scheduled domestic flights, higher than both the rates of 1.7% in July 2021 and 1.1% in August 2020.
Lowest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights August 2021 (ATCR Table 6)
- Delta Air Lines Network – 0.3%
- Hawaiian Airlines – 0.8%
- Alaska Airlines Network – 1.0%
Highest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights August 2021 (ATCR Table 6)
- Spirit Airlines – 15.3%
- Allegiant Air – 5.7%
- American Airlines Network – 4.0%
In August 2021, airlines reported 37 tarmac delay of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to 40 tarmac delays reported in July 2021 and 6 tarmac delays reported in August 2020. In August 2021, airlines reported 4 tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to no tarmac delays reported in July 2021 and 2 tarmac delays in August 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. An exception also exists for departure delays if the airline begins to return the aircraft to a suitable disembarkation point in order to deplane passengers by those times. Extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.
In August 2021, the reporting marketing carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 6.29 mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags, a higher rate than both the July 2021 rate of 5.9 per 1,000 checked bags and the August 2020 rate of 3.01 per 1,000 checked bags.
Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters
In August 2021, reporting marketing airlines reported checking 57,469 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 811, a rate of 1.41% mishandled, lower than the rate of 1.42% mishandled in July 2021 and higher than the rate of 1.20% mishandled in August 2020. In August 2020, the airlines checked 16,297 wheelchairs and scooters, mishandling 195.
Bumping/oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly. Data for the third quarter of 2021 will be published in the next report.
For the second quarter of 2021, the 10 U.S. reporting marketing carriers posted an involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, rate of 0.17 per 10,000 passengers, higher than the rate of 0.08 in the first quarter of 2021 and the rate of 0.15 in the second quarter of 2020.
For the first six months of 2021, the marketing carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.14 per 10,000 passengers, a higher rate than the 0.12 rate for the same period last year.
Incidents Involving Animals
In August 2021, carriers reported four incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, up from both the three reports filed in July 2021 and the zero reports in August 2020. August’s incidents involved injuries to four animals.
Complaints About Airline Service
In August 2021, DOT received 6,666 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 31.8% from the 5,058 received in July 2021 and down 13.1% from the total of 7,668 filed in August 2020. Of the 6,666 complaints received in August 2021, 3,932 (59.0%) were against U.S. carriers, 2,072 (31.1%) were against foreign air carriers, and 662 (9.9%) were against travel companies.
Also, of the 6,666 complaints received, 3,061 (45.9%) concerned refunds. The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection continues to communicate with airlines and travel companies that receive refund complaints to ensure compliance with the refund requirements. Many passengers who had initially been denied refunds have received the required refunds. The Department has taken and will take enforcement action against noncompliant airlines and ticket agents as necessary.
Flight problems was the second highest category of the complaints received in August 2021. Of the 6,666 complaints received, 1896 (28.4%) concerned cancellations, delays or other deviations from airlines’ schedules. The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection routinely contacts airlines with widespread cancellations or delays to remind them of their obligation to promptly refund passengers who choose not to accept the alternative offered for a canceled or significantly changed flight. Airlines are also required to have and adhere to a customer service plan that identifies the services that the airline provides to mitigate passenger inconveniences resulting from flight cancellations and misconnections. The Department monitors airlines’ actions and reviews complaints that it receives against airlines to ensure that consumers’ rights are not violated.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
In August 2021, the Department received a total of 161 disability-related complaints, up from both the 140 complaints received in July 2021 and the 68 complaints received in August 2020.
Complaints About Discrimination
In August 2021, the Department received 10 complaints alleging discrimination – eight complaints regarding race, one complaint regarding ancestry/ethnicity, and one complaint categorized as “other.” This is down from the 18 complaints received in July 2021, but up from the one complaint received in August 2020.
The ATCR and other aviation consumer matters of interest to the public can be found at http://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer.
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.