Comparing airlines, airports by on-time performance

Travelers use all manner of measurements to choose an airline to fly on or an airport to fly through and beyond price, punctuality is high on some lists.

Flight informatoin company OAG gathers oodles of on-time performance data and twice each year shares an ‘award’ ranking airlines and airports with OTP star ratings, 5 being the best.

For U.S. airlines, the latest list – found here – give high marks to Delta’s performance.

“It not only topped its mainline competition, but finished ahead of smaller airlines such as Alaska Airlines and Sun Country Airlines,” OAG notes. “In a U.S. air travel ecosystem that relies on major hubs, it’s easy for a single delay or cancellation to knock an entire day of flights off schedule. Despite managing one of the largest fleets in the world, Delta has remained a cut above its competitors. Southwest (78.9 OTP), American (78.8 OTP) and United (78.5 OTP) all performed admirably, earning 3 stars respectively.”

When it comes to airports, the standouts are Salt Lake City International Airport (earning 5 stars for an 85.2 percent on-time performance), Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (82.9 percent), Detroit Metropolitan Airport (83.1 percent), Charlotte Douglas International Airport (82.2 percent) and Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport (85.1 percent).

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Good news, bad news for air travelers today.

In the good file:

IND suitcase art

If you book a 2-night weekend stay (Fri/Sat/Sun) at a IHG hotel (InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, , Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites and others), and check a bag on your flight there, you can get a rebate for up to $50 of your bag check fees. There are restrictions of course – you need to pay with a Visa, stay between Sept 1 and Dec 30th,  and accept your refund in the form of an IHG Visa Prepaid Card – but it’s still a good offer.

Kimpton hotels have had a similar offer for a while. It’s We’ve got your bag program promises a $25 room credit if you show a receipt for a checked bag.

Also: Chicago’s mayor announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon Committee to study whether or not express train service between O’Hare International Airport and downtown Chicago is a good idea.

Do they really need to study this? We say: just do it!  A lot of travelers would happily pay a premium over the current fare on the Blue Line to make it downtown in a hurry.

orange airplane seat

In the bad file: Joining the pack of other carriers, such as United, that will let you buy seats with extra legroom, American Airlines has announced a new fee today for what it calls “Express Seats:” the roomier seats in the first few rows of the coach cabin.

Pricing will be based on distance and range from $19 (i.e. St. Louis to Chicago) to $39 (Chicago to Honolulu) and the seats will be up for sale 50 minutes to 24 hours before a flight.  Buying one of those seats also allows you to board with Group 1.  Here’s their spin.

At the Airport: shoes off, but not in the bins


Next time you’re asked (told) to take your shoes off at an airport security checkpoint, don’t put them in a bin; put them directly on the X-ray belt.

According to “Lynn” on the TSA’s Evolution of Security Web Site:

This will help to declutter bins and give officers a better view of shoes coming through, as well as everything else. Our officers are seeing some pretty packed bins with shoes, electronics, wallets and other items, and when they can’t get a good look, a cluttered bin is more likely to get pulled aside for additional screening. Nobody likes that.

No, nobody likes that. And I’ve never liked the idea that shoes went in the same bins as all our other stuff anyway.   So while it may help de-clutter the bins, it will also help de-germ them.

Who needs First Class seats?

Can’t afford First or Business class, but don’t want to fly in the economy cabin on your next flight?  Soon you’ll have a new option on Air France:

The airline is carving out a new cabin section, Premium Voyageur, between the Business and Economy cabins and putting in these swanky new fixed-shell seats:


The new section will have extra legroom and many of the amenities of the Business Class cabin. The meal service will be the same as  in Economy, though: aperitifs, champagne,  a choice of two hot meals, liqueurs, wines and, on flights over 12 hours long, mini-sandwiches and Häagen Dazs ice-cream.

The new cabin section comes with some Business Class perks at the airport as well: priority check-in desks, increased baggage weight allowance, and priority baggage delivery.

Can’t wait to try it out? The first available destinations will be New York-JFK, Tokyo and Osaka. For more details, see the Air France Website.

As of today, you’ll pay $25 to check a second bag at the airport

Starting today, May 5th, non-exempt travelers flying on Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways must pay $25 to check a second piece of luggage. American Airlines will begin charging that same $25 on May 12. Air Tran jumps in with a $10 second-bag fee on May 15th. And, just in time for summer travel, passengers on Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will start paying that $25 fee on July 1st.

One bit of good news: As of today, United Airlines will waive that second bag fee for passengers who pay to check luggage at remote baggage check-in sites such as hotel lobbies, convention centers and cruise ships.

No word yet on how long the airline will be doing that, but so far it is the only airline to do so.