Turbulence Ahead for America’s Airlines

By: Krystal Etienne · May 15, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Who’s To Blame?

Collectively, Americans spent 5.3 million hours waiting for a delayed flight to takeoff between January 2019 and February 2023, according to the US Department of Transportation.

Nobody likes when a flight gets delayed. It’s understandably a major hassle for travelers, who at best must spend hours in airport seating and at worst may miss an important event. But it’s also stressful for airline workers who have to deliver the bad news to disgruntled passengers, juggling customer service with their roles in getting the schedule back on track.

When flights are delayed due to weather, there’s not much anyone can do but shake their heads. However, a new study shows most flight delays are actually caused by issues within the airlines’ control.

Breaking Down Delays

Data collected by the US Department of Transportation showed 5.8% of all flights from 2019 to 2023 were delayed due to maintenance, crew problems, baggage loading, or aircraft cleaning. System outages comprised 4.7%, and the chain reaction of inbound late arrivals accounted for another 5.7%. Comparatively, just 0.65% of flights were delayed due to weather.

This new report has fueled the Biden administration’s push to hold airlines more accountable for getting passengers to their destinations on time.

What’s Changing?

Most recently, the Biden Administration proposed a rule that would require airlines to compensate travelers for delays or cancellation for which they were responsible, while also covering any related expenses, including hotel rooms, meals, and taxi rides. Naturally, the airline industry is strongly opposed to this new rule.

With new regulations hanging in the air, airlines will be under a lot of pressure to perform to a higher standard over the coming months. This should be especially interesting as this summer is expected to be one of the most hectic travel seasons in recent memory.

That might sound like a bumpy ride for travelers. But with airlines on their best behavior under federal scrutiny, it might actually be blue skies ahead.

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