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This Is The Most Punctual Airline In The United States

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In a year when flight delays were rampant, especially after airlines started facing severe staffing shortages and operational issues relating to the pent-up demand post-Covid, one airline, in particular, stood out as the most punctual in North America. Surprisingly, it is registered in the United States, in spite of the country's well-documented travel woes.

Young Female Traveler Looking Out The Airport Terminal Window As An Aircraft Takes Off, Air Travel Concept

Covid may have been defeated across most of the Western Hemisphere, including the U.S., and one could argue that has been largely thanks to a wide vaccination campaign and other prevention efforts, but this does not mean disruption affecting international travel subsided. For most of the summer, it was absolute carnage at some airline check-in desks.

Interestingly, some still managed to fare a lot better than others:

South American Airlines Rank Among The Best In The World For On-Time Arrivals

Travelers Checking In For An Azul Airlines Flight

As is customary, the aviation analytics experts at Cirium published their latest monthly report on airline performance, comprising the month of August 2022, the peak of summer and notably the busiest for air travel. Judging by the data provided, South American airlines are still at the top of their game, while carriers from North America are struggling more.

Overall, airlines like Azul, Avianca, and LATAM have had the least delays. On Cirium's Airline On-Time Performance (OTP) Report, the trio leads globally at numbers 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Azul, the number one on the list, is a Brazilian carrier whose OTP rate was estimated at 89.31%, moderately higher than the second-best placed at 88.26%.

Outline Of Female Traveler Dragging Luggage At An Unspecified Airport, Air Travel Concept

In other words, nearly 90% of flights operated by Azul departed on time during this period, slightly improving over 89.02% in July. This is good news for Americans heading to Brazil this fall, as Azul is a domestic leader within that country, and by booking through them, the risk of missing flight connections or wasting precious vacation time is seriously reduced.

This season, Cirium notes, ‘performance continues to improve gradually', corroborating other research that indicates the fall is the best for international travel this year. Now that the summer of chaos has been overcome, even U.S. airlines, famously held back by mismanagement and significant flight cuts, are bouncing back stronger.

And The Most Punctual U.S. Airline Currently Is…

Delta Airlines Aircraft Parked In A Row At An Unspecified Airport

Out of all North American airlines, Delta has been the best performing with an OTP rate of 83.68%, reclaiming the spot of the most punctual airline in the U.S. after having been briefly overthrown by Alaska Airlines. This is certainly good news for Delta, especially after reports of overbooked flights leading to excessively long delays began circulating.

Moving forward, they seem ready to rebuild their reputation as a reliable airline, and besides observing an OTP improvement, they have been adding a spate of new international flights to exciting sunny destinations for the colder months to come. Among them, some of the routes launching we're most excited about are:

Delta Airlines Check In Desk At An Unspecified Airport
  • Los Angeles to Tahiti, French Polynesia
  • Atlanta to Cape Town, South Africa
  • Atlanta to Tel Aviv, Israel

Additionally, the carrier is relaunching flights to South Korea in a timely manner now that it is reopening for normal tourism with no Covid entry requirements, as well as adding new premium cabin experiences and rolling out vegetarian and vegan-friendly menus. In summary, they're surely investing heavily in both connectivity and customer satisfaction.

Interior Of Delta Airlines Aircraft

Of course, making sure they are able to deliver on their ambitious schedule is key, and they seem to be doing well on that front, too, at least from Cirium's point of view. Theirs is the ‘longest-standing' on-time performance analysis, dating back 13 years and issued monthly. This means we should find out soon enough whether Delta has kept up its momentum.

What About Other Big U.S. Carriers?

American Airlines airplane About To Take Off From Unspecified Airport

Two other big American carriers have featured in Cirium's ranking, those being United Airlines at number eight and American Airlines rounding out the top ten, two of Delta's main competitors both within the United States and on the international stage. You can find the complete Global Mainline* list for the most punctual airlines below:

  1. Azul (AD) – 89.31% of flights arrived on time
  2. SA Avianca (AV) – 87.47% of flights arrived on time
  3. LATAM Airlines (LA) – 85.56% of flights arrived on time
  4. ANA (NH) – 85.29% of flights arrived on time
  5. JAL (JL) – 84.65% of flights arrived on time
  6. Delta Airlines (DL) – 83.68% of flights arrived on time
  7. Aeromexico (AM) – 81.51% of flights arrived on time
  8. United Airlines (UA) – 79.89% of flights arrived on time
  9. Qatar Airways (QR) – 77.86% of flights arrived on time
  10. American Airlines (AA) – 75.78% of flights arrived on time
Couple Of Travelers Pictured Beside Their Luggage As They Withdraw Money From An ATM At The Airport, International Travel

*Mainline flights are operated by an airline's main operating unit, as opposed to subsidiaries and/or regional partners.

This list is attributed to Cirium, and it is based on data compiled during the month of August 2022.

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This article originally appeared on

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.

Marc F

Saturday 8th of October 2022

Delta hardly needs to "rebuild" their reputation as a reliable carrier. They have always been the best of the big three when it comes to punctuality, and considering they have a fleet of nearly 1,000 aircraft, their performance is incredible. That's why, whenever I fly, and there are plenty of carriers from which to choose, Delta is my first choice. They aren't always the cheapest, but you get what you pay for.