Airline delay data incomplete - and worse than expected (Picture: #96 on flickr)

Airline delay data incomplete – and worse than expected

A federal report has said that airline delay data is incomplete and worse than we think, showing only part of the picture.

The US saw thousands of delays and cancellations in the past few weeks as more bad weather grounded flights. However, many of those won’t be counted as late or cancelled in the on time statistics.

On time statistics only show 76% of domestic flight at American commercial airports according to a December report by the Transportation Department’s inspector general.

The stats do not include many segments the industry that have grown such as:

  • International flights
  • Spirit Airlines flights
  • Many flights operated by regional carriers and other partners
  • Smaller planes

A rule has been proposed to change this and increase the number of carriers required to report data about delays and cancellations, improving accuracy of data shared. However, the proposed rule has been delayed and has yet to be adopted more than two years after it was proposed. The rule itself is part of a set of passenger protections.

The Transportation Department has so far declined to comment on the report or the delays.

This poses many problems for data collectors. How can we get a more complete and accurate picture? “We are always open to suggestions for improving the usefulness of our on-time performance information and members of the public will have an opportunity to comment on any proposal issued by the department.” Any suggestions for the Transportation Department?

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