Road Warrior

Keeping score on airlines: More delays, mishandled luggage

Airline report card

For thousands of Americans who flew this spring, fewer flights arrived on time and more of their bags were mishandled by airlines.

The latest report on airline performance from the Department of Transportation showed 76.9 percent of commercial flights arrived on time in May, down from 79.6 percent in April. Airlines also canceled more flights during the month—1.9 percent compared with April's 1.1 percent.

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According to the report, weather was the culprit for many of the delays. In May, 33.5 percent of delays were caused by weather, up from 26.6 percent in April.

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In addition to a drop in on-time performance, the airlines also did worse when it came to handling luggage. In May, the government received 3.34 reports of mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, compared with a mishandled baggage rate of 2.92 per 1,000 passengers in April.

Hawaiian leads the way, United struggles

Hawaiian Airlines, which often leads in monthly airline performance reports, had the highest percentage of flights land on time, at about 93.2 percent. Alaska and Delta ranked second and third, respectively.

By comparison, ExpressJet Airlines, a regional carrier, experienced the most delays. Just 70.3 percent of its flights during the month of May were on time. That performance was slightly worse than Envoy Air and Southwest, which landed less than 72 percent of their flights on time.

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United Airlines had the dubious distinction of being the only major airline to have four flights with tarmac waits of greater than three hours. It included Flight 1426 from Los Angeles to Houston on May 9, when passengers were forced to wait on the tarmac for three hours and 42 minutes.

By CNBC's Phil LeBeau

Follow Road Warrior on Twitter at @CNBCtravel.

Airlines' on-time flight performance in May

Rank Airline Rate of on-time arrivals (%)
5US Airways82.11
6Virgin America81.77