Here’s some essential reading material while you contend with long lines and drawn-out delays at the airport. A survey of the world’s most punctual airlines and airports by the OAG Punctuality League, an air travel intelligence firm based in the U.K., listed the best ones in terms of on-time performance, which it defines as “flights that arrive or depart under 15 minutes of their scheduled times.”
The 2018 OAG Punctuality League survey is based on 57 million flight records complied in 2017. The good news: Despite all the complaints, several U.S. carriers made these lists, but in most instances, they didn’t come in first. The top-ranked airline was little-known airBaltic, a Latvian state carrier with a stellar 90 percent on-time record. U.S. carrier Hawaiian Airlines came in third at 87 percent.
Among airports, those in the Japanese cities of Osaka and Tokyo had the shortest waiting times for flights.
OAG divided the data for both airports and airlines into five categories: mega (30 million-plus departing seats last year), major (20 million-30 million seats), large (10 million-20 million seats), medium (5 million-10 million seats) and small (2.5 million-5 million seats).
Within the mega airport category, the U.S. had four finishers: Atlanta’s Hartsfield came in third, Denver took fourth, Dallas-Ft. Worth placed fifth and Chicago’s O’Hare was seventh.
Often-snowbound Minneapolis-St. Paul International came in a surprising first worldwide in the “major” airport category, with an on-time performance of 86 percent. Detroit’s Metropolitan was fourth, Phoenix International placed fifth, Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental took sixth, Charlotte’s Douglas International came in eighth and Seattle-Tacoma’s International was 10th.
For “large” airports, Salt Lake City came in second.
The OAG specified mega airlines as those operating globally. Top performers were Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. Not far behind was U.S.-based Delta Air Lines, which came in third with an 83 percent performance. Alaska Airlines came in fifth, American Airlines placed ninth and Southwest tied for 10th place.
The survey shows very clearly that Americans aren’t the world’s biggest travelers. Tracking the world’s “busiest routes,” New York’s La Guardia to Toronto, Canada was the only one to place in the top 10, coming in sixth. In contrast, the most heavily traveled route was from Hong Kong in mainland China to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
Although everyone complains about on-time performance, airlines have a very good track record for a more important aspect of flying: 2017 was the safest on record for commercial flights, with no reported fatalities.