Airlines are doing a better job of having their planes arrive on time, although more than one in five flights still run late.
The U.S. Transportation Department said Tuesday that the nation's biggest airlines achieved an on-time arrival rating of 79.6% in April. That is up from 77.6% in March and 77.3% in April 2013. A flight is considered on time if it arrives less than 15 minutes after its scheduled arrival time.
The most punctual airlines were Hawaiian, Alaska and Virgin America. The most likely to be late were ExpressJet, Southwest Airlines and Envoy, which used to be called American Eagle.
The government said that canceled flights were down -- 1.1% of domestic flights, compared with 1.8% in April 2013. And no domestic flights were stuck on the ground for more than three hours, although one international flight remained on the tarmac for four hours, exceeding the limit in federal rules.
The airlines reported that for every 1,000 passengers in April, there were 2.92 bags that were lost, stolen, damaged or delayed, down slightly from the 3.07 rate in April 2013. Virgin America rated best at bag handling, while Envoy was worst by a wide margin.
Complaints to the government rose 16%, but the number of consumers who filed a formal complaint remained tiny -- 1,259 complaints out of 483,499 flights that were tracked. Southwest had the lowest rate of complaints; Frontier Airlines had the highest.
The Transportation Department report covers 12 airline companies but excludes smaller carriers such as Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air because their revenue from domestic flights is less than 1% of the industry total.
The federal government counts a flight as on-time if it arrives within 14 minutes of schedule. Here are the government's rankings of the 14 leading airlines and their on-time performance in April:
1. Hawaiian Airlines, 94.0 percent
2. Alaska Airlines, 90.3 percent
3. Virgin America, 86.5 percent
4. Delta Air Lines, 85.2 percent
5. AirTran Airways, 84.6 percent*
6. US Airways, 83.3 percent**
7. American Airlines, 82.3 percent**
8. United Airlines, 81.8 percent
9. SkyWest, 80.9 percent
10. Frontier Airlines, 79.7 percent
11. JetBlue Airways, 77.4 percent
12. Envoy, 75.2 percent***
13. Southwest Airlines, 74.2 percent*
14. ExpressJet, 74.2 percent
Total for all reporting airlines: 79.6 percent
*owned by Southwest Airlines Co.
**owned by American Airlines Group Inc.
***formerly American Eagle
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