It turns out that Delta Airlines, which recently made the headlines for a breakdown that led to thousands of flight delays, isn’t actually as bad after all. Apparently, the carrier possesses a fairly good track record when it comes to flight cancellations and flight delays.
According to the data provided by the government, Delta ranks as the “least likely” to leave passengers waiting or stranded when compared with the other 3 major U.S air carriers. Most of Delta Airlines’ flights have been on time as far as records from the last 5 years indicate. The carrier has a 6% better score than other US carriers such as Southwest, United or American Airlines.
In the initial 5 month period during 2016, Delta had operated around 50,000 flights per month. Flight cancellations averaged at less than 300, while flight delays have averaged at less than 7000.
The recent cancellations and delays that affected the airline were caused due to a power outage at the company headquarters in Atlanta. The power outage caused very important network equipment to breakdown. This has also made the backup system fail, making things much worse. However, as seen above, barring the recent exception, the carrier has a fairly good track record.
But, the recent breakdown is expected to cause problems for the carrier as far as rankings go.
A spokesperson for Delta declined to provide an answer when questioned about the importance of the statistics in context of it being reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation. However, the spokesperson did mention Delta prided itself in serving customers and that the carrier was focused on offering the best in terms of operational performance and experience.
A third of the delays that affected Delta in the last 5 years were the result of factors that were within the carrier’s control (termed by the FAA as Carrier Delays). The remainder of the delays were caused by factors such as bad weather, security issues, traffic control problems, and late arrivals.
Why flight delays happen today
The number of flight delays tends to go up during moments of economic growth. This is because air traffic increases during economically busy periods, putting stress on out-dated control systems. Compared to ten years ago, most flight delays today are caused by carrier failures rather than bad weather or other external factors.
For example, last month, Southwest Airlines saw flight delays and cancellations involving around 2000 flights. The issue was caused due to a computer system failure.
US air carriers are expected to submit reports on their on-time performance to the government every month. This is done for each flight. The information is also disclosed to travel agents and uploaded onto the carrier’s website. The information is provided to keep consumers informed and to ensure that carriers are able to offer a better service.
Air carriers can be fined by the Department of Transportation for unfair practices and are required to offer refunds for cancellation and major delays. In the case of Delta’s recent breakdown, the air carrier offered refunds to the affected passengers.