by Alex Palmer | February 20, 2013
Incentive planners can be reassured by a new report coming from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that the mishandled baggage rate is lower than it has been in 25 years. They also reported a high level of on-time performance, few lengthy tarmac delays, and a low rate of canceled flights.

According to the Air Travel Consumer Report issued last week, major airlines reported a mishandled baggage rate of 3.09 incidents per 1,000 passengers, an improvement over last year’s rate of 3.35 incidents, and the lowest rate since the DOT began reporting such figures in 1987. 

The report also detailed a rate of 81.85 percent for on-time arrivals — the third-highest rate in the 18 years since this statistic has been tracked. The strongest year remains 2002, which reported on-time arrivals for 82.14 percent of all flights, followed by 2003’s 81.96 percent. 

The cancellation rate also took a dip to 1.29 percent. This is the second-lowest rate in 18 years, only slightly more than 2002’s 1.24 percent.

“This remarkable decrease in flight delays, tarmac incidents, cancellations, and mishandled bags is a tribute both to the hard work of the airlines and the Department of Transportation’s oversight of the aviation industry,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.  “We will continue to work with the carriers to make air travel more convenient and hassle-free for consumers.”

Looking specifically at the month of December 2012, the report found that the primary cause of flight delays, leading to 8.55 percent of flights being delayed that month, were late-arriving aircraft, followed by 6.19 percent of flights being delayed due to aviation system delays. Extreme weather was responsible for the delay of 4.27 flight delays in December. Hawaiian Airlines had the distinction of the highest percent of on-time arrivals with 93.3 percent, followed by Delta Airlines at 85.4 percent, and Alaska Airlines at 83.3 percent.