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If you need to get to your destination on time, you shouldn’t treat every airline equally

Travel + Leisure  – April 5, 2019

Hawaiian Airlines has the highest on-time performance of any U.S. airline, according to the annual results of the Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report.

Last year, Hawaiian Airlines (and all its codeshare partner airlines) reported on-time arrivals for 87.5 percent of all its flights. The runner up, Delta Air Lines, reported 86.1 percent of last year’s flights arrived on time. The third-place winner was budget airline Spirit with an on-time performance of 84.5 percent.

It’s worth noting that airlines consistently jockey for these top positions and who comes out on top often depends on who’s reporting. Earlier this year, Delta Air Lines was named the most punctual in the world by FlightGlobal, an aviation data company. (This ranking didn’t include Delta’s codeshare partners.) According to this ranking, 86.09 of Delta’s flights arrived on time last year. And at the end of last year, the Federal Aviation Administration named Spirit Airlines as the most punctual.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, budget airline Frontier Airlines is the least punctual, with an on-time performance of 74.4 percent. The second-lowest, JetBlue, was not much better. The airline came in second-lowest place at a negligible difference of 74.5 percent of flights on time.

But, to give credit where credit is due, the Department of Transportation (DOT) also reported that JetBlue had the lowest rate of cancellations last year, coming in at only 0.2 percent. (Delta Air Lines and Spirit came in second and third place for least likely to cancel.)

Alaska Airlines reported 80.6 percent of flights arriving on time. Both Southwest and Allegiant Air reported on-time performance of 78.8 percent. American Airlines flights arrived on time 78 percent of the time last year and United flights came in at 77.6 percent. 

Overall, last year wasn’t the best year for flights arriving on time, according to the DOT. Across all airlines, on-time arrivals clocked in at 79.4 percent, a decrease from 80.2 percent in 2017.