A Small Bright Spot Thanks To COVID: More Flights Are On Time

by SharonKurheg

There are a bajillion ways that coronavirus has messed with the world. Nearly 60 million people have contracted the illness and 2.5% of them (close to 1.5 million) have passed away from it. Businesses have closed. Travel was at a near standstill in the spring and is still greatly curtailed. It’s been a disaster in just about every way, shape and form, except one.

Flights are on time significantly more often.

According to figures recently released by the  DOT, 90.5% of domestic flights operated or marketed by the 10 primary mainline U.S. carriers were on time in July. As a comparison, in July 2019, an average of only 76.9% of flights were on time.

June 2020 was even better than July – 92.4% of flights were on time, as opposed to June 2019, when only 73.3% of flights arrived within 15 minutes of their scheduled time.

As per the DOT, here are the recent percentages of on-time arrivals for the 10 major U.S. airlines when you compare 2019 to 2020:

  • Southwest: 2019 – 80.3%, 2020 – 94.5%
  • Alaska: 2019 – 84.9%, 2020 – 92.5%
  • Hawaiian: 2019 – 88.4%, 2020 – 91.7%
  • Delta: 2019 – 80.3%. 2020 – 90.4%
  • Spirit: 2019 – 74.1%, 2020 – 90.1%
  • United: 2019 – 72.2%. 2020 – 89.7%
  • American: 2019 – 74.9%, 2020 – 88.6%
  • Frontier: 2019 – 66.0%, 2020 – 87.0%
  • Allegiant: 2019 – 78.6%. 2020 – 85.5%
  • JetBlue: 2019 – 70.2%, 2020 – 85.4%

Why is this happening?

The reasoning comes in several forms:

  • There are fewer flights, which makes the air traffic system work more efficiently (read: less congestion, less chance for delays)
  • Flights aren’t as full, which means it takes less time to board and deplane passengers and load/unload luggage.

Flight delays tend to piggyback on each other. When one flight leaves a gate on time, the next flight can enter it on time, which, combined with a plane that only has half the number of people to get boarded and settled before takeoff, gives it more chance to leave on time. And so on and so on and so on throughout the day.

In comparison to all of the havoc COVID-19 has caused, flights being on-time more often is a very small thing. But hey, it’s better than nothing.

Feature Photo: Pikrepo

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


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