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Airline complaints jumped in August

A Delta employee helps travelers near the Delta check-in counter at LaGuardia Airport.
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A Delta employee helps travelers near the Delta check-in counter at LaGuardia Airport.

A new report finds August was a frustrating month for people flying in the U.S., with complaints about airline service jumping 14 percent compared to July.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said 2,250 complaints about airline service were filed in August, but it's not clear exactly what was bothering travelers.

One factor could have been a computer outage at Delta Air Lines in early August which lead to the cancellation of about 2,000 flights.

"It took us a long time to recover," Delta CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC. "The challenge we had at Delta is not just that we went out, it's that period of time we went out. It was early August, Monday morning, busiest travel time and we had no back-up capability."

Delta said it has corrected the lack of redundancy in its computer system that made the outage so costly.

The incident cost the airline $100 million and contributed to the carrier cancelling 2.1 percent of its scheduled flights in August, the second highest rate of cancellations among airlines for the month.

Overall, 77.6 percent of the flights in the U.S. were on-time in August, one of the busiest months of the year for air travel. The on-time arrival rate was slightly better than July and the industry did slightly better handling checked bags.

The three airlines with the best on-time arrival rates were, Hawaiian, Alaska, and Skywest, which were all on schedule more than 81 percent of the time.

By comparison, Frontier Airlines had the poorest on-time arrival rate in August at 65.9 percent, right behind Spirit and American Airlines.

Highest on-time arrival rates

Airline
On-time rate
Hawaiian Airlines 92.6%
Alaska Airlines 87.8%
SkyWest Airlines 81.5%
Source: The U.S. Department of Transportation

Lowest on-time arrival rates

Airline
On-time rate
Frontier Airlines 65.9%
Spirit Airlines 71.8%
American Airlines 71.9%
Source: The U.S. Department of Transportation