animals

Report card for airlines

LAX Flight Path Museum airplane models

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released air carrier data for calendar year 2018.

The report inludes stats on everything from arrival rates and incident involving the death of animals carried on airplanes to bumping rates and, for the first time, the number of wheelchairs or scooters that were checked and mishandled by airlines.

The full report can be found here, but here are some highlights.

Hawaiian Airlines had the best arrival rates in 2018 – 87.8 percent – followed by Delta Air Lines (83.2 percent) and Alaska Airlines (82.7 percent).

The worst arrival rates for 2018?

Frontier Airlines (69.4 percent), JetBlue (71 percent) and Allegiant Airlines (76.9 percent).

Overall, during 2018 reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 79.4 percent, down from 80.2 percent in 2017. 

Tarmac Delays

In 2018, airlines reported 202 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, an increase from the 193 such tarmac delays reported in 2017. 

In 2018, airlines reported 61 tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to 51 such tarmac delays reported in 2017.

Incidents Involving Animals

In 2018, carriers reported 10 animal deaths, injuries to seven other animals and zero lost animals, for a total of 17 incidents, down from the 40 total incident reports filed for calendar year 2017. 

Complaints About Airline Service

Overall, travelers filed fewer complaints about airlines with the DOT in 2018 than they did in 2017.

In 2018, the DOT received 15,541 complaints, down 14.4 percent from the total of 18,156 received in 2017.  

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers and Discrimination  

In 2018, the DOT received 828 disability complaints, down 2.6 percent from the total of 850 received in 2017. 

There were 96 complaints about discrimination, a decrease of 2.0 percent from the total of 98 filed in 2017.

Bumping

After a series of sensational incidents in past years, in 2018 the number of bumped passengers hit a historical low.

In 2018, reporting carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.14 per 10,000 passengers, the previous low was 0.40 in 2017.

Wheelchairs and scooters

For the first time, the DOT’s report includes the number of wheelchairs and scooters checked and mishandled by the 12 reporting airlines.  

From Dec. 4 through Dec. 31, airlines reported checking 32,229 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 701, a rate of 2.18 percent mishandled.  

Tampa Int’l latest airport to tighten leash on pets

Last year, Portland International Airport and several other airports followed the lead of airlines in tightening the leash on what consitutes an ’emotional support’ animal and the expected and acceptable behavior of pets in the terminals.

The move came in response to increase incidents of aggressive pets and, in some cases, of pets biting and attacking passengers and employees in airports.

Now Tampa International Airport (TPA), which last May was in the news when a dog traveling as an emotional support animal gave birth to puppies in the terminal, has joined the herd in stepping up its enforcement of restricting non-service animals at the airport.

The aim of TPA’s new policy is reducing injuries to pets and people as well as enhancing cleanliness and sanitation at the airport.

Starting this week, TPA will begin educating pet owners about the airport policy which, it notes, has been in place for decades but loosely enforced.

The policy states that traveling non-service animals (i.e. pets) must be properly confined in a pet carrier or controlled on a leash when they are in the airport.

In addition, pets that are not traveling, such as those greeting arriving passengers in the Main Terminal, are not allowed at TPA.

At the end of March, pet owners who are not following the rules will receive warnings and there could be citations for non-compliant guests.

LIke other airport, TPA is experiencing record passenger growth and a record numbers of animals in the terminals. And TPA paramedics, police and maintenance staff are responding to an increased number of injuries to people and pets and cleaning up hundreds of pet ‘accidents.’

TPA’s policy enforcement was endorsed by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, which says the policy is a necessary measure to reduce animal incidents such as paw injuries on escalators.

What do you think of this trend? Do you bring your pet to the airport? Have you seen witnessed pets misbehaving at airports?

A pet traveling as an emotional support animal gave birth to puppies last year at Tampa International Airport.

Bees delay a plane in South Africa

As I reported in a recent At the Airport column for USA TODAY, airports deal with all sorts of unwanted wildlife, from worms to whales.

At King Shaka International Airport in Durban, South Africa, the unwanted wildlife was a swarm of bees.

On Sunday, Mango Airlines reported that a swarm of  about 20,000 bees was discovered building a nest inside on of its airplane engines, causing a delay to several flights.

Bee removal experts were called in and successfully gathered up and removed the bees. According to South Africa’s News 24 website,  the bees were taken a beekeeper’s home and will be likely be transferred to an area macadamia farm or to another beekeeper.

Incidents of bees swarming airplanes aren’t all that unusual. In March, 2017, an American Airlines flight from Miami to New York’s JFK airport was delayed by about four hours due to a swarm of bees that had landed on the side of an airplane.

Bee careful out there.

Frontier Airlines seeking new spokesanimal

Frontier Airlines, which has pictures of critters on more than 60 of its airplanes, is adding one more.

Eighteen animals – including Doris the Chicken, Melvin the Turtle and Doug the Dung Beetle – are in the running and the winner will the animal (or insect) that receives the most votes.

“Auditions” are on now through April 7 at FrontierAirlines.com. Voting on the three finalists will take place April 9-15.  The winner will be announced at the end of April.

Voting is fun, but also rewarding:

Anyone who votes for their favorite ‘spokesanimal’ will receive an email with a discount offer on future Frontier travel and be entered to win up to $2,500 in Frontier Fly Bucks. On its Facebook page, the airline is also giving away prizes that include the new iPad, Kindle Fire and (more) Frontier Fly Bucks.

The ballot includes:

Doris the Chicken
Vladimir the Bat
Tina the Grebe
Doug the Dung Beetle
Enrique the Tree Frog
Polly the Parrot
Paula the Pig
Ralph the Ram
Alivina the Owl
Samson the Sloth
Melvin the Turtle
Chloe the Chipmunk
Cammie the Cow
Joanne the Giraffe
Fred the Walrus
Duke the Arctic Dog
Will & Hill the Prairie Dogs
Mario the Lizard