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These Are The Top 5 U.S. Airlines With The Least Amount Of Delays Right Now

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There’s no worse feeling than making it to the airport on time only to find out that your flight’s been pushed back for hours, especially if you have a schedule to meet.

So, if you’re planning a time-sensitive trip any time soon, you’ll want to be extra particular about the carrier you choose.

woman looking at her phone in an airport

Cirium just released its newest monthly report on the top 5 U.S. Airlines with the least amount of delays right now. 

According to its findings, these are the most punctual carriers:

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines has just reclaimed its title as North America’s most punctual carrier after a brief dethronement by Alaska Airlines these past two months. 

In August, Delta’s on-time performance (OTP) rate was 82.8%, marking a 4.25% increase from July. 

This should come as no surprise since Delta is one of the few major U.S. carriers that has a decent reputation in terms of on-time departures, which has been further cemented by several reports and studies throughout the years.

Delta airplane

With that said, Delta is known to sometimes overbook popular flights, meaning that even if your plane departs on time, you might end up having to wait for hours until the airline is able to get you to another flight if you are bumped.

All in all, it still remains to be seen whether Delta’s temporary fall from the first spot is a coincidence or an indicator that the carrier isn’t as properly equipped as its competitors to handle the summer rush. 

United Airlines

United Airlines is undoubtedly the biggest surprise in this past month’s ranking. Though always part of the top 5 most punctual U.S. airlines, the carrier has consistently been put towards the bottom of the ranking.

In August, though, United scored an impressive OTP rate of 81.61%, claiming the runner-up spot for the first time in years. 

United Airlines airplanes

Unfortunately, this seems to be a temporary climb to the top since September already started with the airline announcing nationwide delays.

Alaska Airlines

After an impressive summer season with few delays, Alaska Airlines falls to no. 3 for the first time since February.

Still, the fact that the carrier has managed to maintain a high on-time departure rate all throughout peak season is nothing short of impressive. 

Alaska Airlines Airplane

The airline also offers great care to customers in case of delays, so if yours happens to be one of the few flights that don’t depart on time, make sure to check out the embedded link to see if you’re entitled to any compensation.

American Airlines

American Airlines scored an OTP rate of 79.41% this August, which is on par with its usual performance. 

Though the carrier hasn’t seen one of the top two spots for quite a while now, it does have a decent policy in place in case of a delay.

View of an airplane from American Airlines (AA) at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in Queens, New York, United States.

While on the topic, it’s important to understand that U.S. airlines aren’t required by law to offer any type of compensation for delayed flights (other than re-booking your seats). That’s why policies will differ from one carrier to another.

Generally speaking, if flights are delayed due to factors out of the airline’s control, e.g., bad weather, you shouldn’t expect any complementary meals or extra flight credit to come your way.

Delayed Flights Board

However, if delays are lengthy (3+ hours) and due to factors within the airline’s control, some form of compensation can be expected. 

Southwest Airlines

The last airline to make it to the top 5 is Southwest, with an OTP rate of 74.89.

Though the carrier is currently in last place, it’s important to remember that it has shown a remarkable level of improvement these last few months. 

Just this last May, Southwest wasn’t even part of the top 5, so there’s a real chance that its delays will become even rarer as time goes by.

Southwest plane flying against a blue sky

One interesting fact to note, though, is that North American airlines performed comparatively worse than carriers from all other regions (Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and so on) in terms of punctuality.

This proves that even though some individual airlines have made progress in their OTP rates, further improvements on a larger scale are needed to ensure travelers have enjoyable, delay-free experiences.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Dan Cloud

Monday 18th of September 2023

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