Airlines: Which Airline Has Fliers Singing the Delay Blues?

ByABC News

March 1, 2006 — -- You may get a bargain if you fly JetBlue Airways, but that doesn't mean you'll reach your destination on time.

Among 19 carriers reporting to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, JetBlue had the lowest on-time arrival rates in January, according to the Department of Transportation's Air Travel Consumer Report for that month. The popular upstart airline landed on schedule just 70.6 percent of the time. Hawaiian Airlines was best, with a rate of 95.9 percent, and other airlines arrived promptly 78.8 percent of the time.

The report is more bad news for JetBlue, which lost $42.4 million during the fourth quarter due to fuel costs, and it plans to raise fares to improve profits. But it did have one of the lowest rates of canceled flights, at 0.2 percent, which could be tied to its many delays. Other airlines would rather cancel a flight than hurt their arrival rates.

"JetBlue policy is to do whatever it can to get a flight completed," Jim Corridore, an airline equity analyst with Standard & Poor's, told ABC News. "They try very hard not to cancel flights."

Another possible reason for JetBlue's tardiness, Corridore said, is that it added 100-seat Embraer 190 jets to its fleet, which caused some software problems. "We have had some operational issues with the airplane," CEO David Neeleman told analysts at a January conference. The plane's introduction "certainly hasn't been up to what we thought we could do."

Rounding out the top three airlines for arrival rates in the report are Southwest Airlines at 84.4 percent and Frontier Airlines at 82.5 percent. Following JetBlue for the fewest timely arrivals were Alaska Airlines, at 71.2 percent, and Atlantic Southeast Airlines, at 72.9 percent.

The most frequently delayed flights in January were:

The highest rates of canceled flights were those by Mesa Airlines (4.2 percent); Atlantic Southeast Airlines (3.1 percent); and American Eagle Airlines (3 percent). Frontier Airlines followed Hawaiian and JetBlue with the lowest rates of canceled flights, at 0.3 percent.

According to the report, the carriers canceled 1.7 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in January, a smaller rate of cancellations than both January 2005's 4.2 percent and December 2005's 1.9 percent.

In addition, the carriers reported that 7 percent of their January flights arrived late because of aviation system delays, compared with 9.46 percent in December 2005; 5.61 percent because of late-arriving aircraft, compared with 8.18 percent in December; 5.81 percent of flights were late for reasons within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared with 8.06 percent in December; 0.87 percent because of extreme weather, compared with 1.13 percent in December; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared with 0.10 percent in December.'s Adrienne Mand Lewin contributed to this report.