March a good month for on-time arrivals

We all love to hate the airlines, and on-time arrivals are among our largest gripes. There’s nothing worse (well, within reason) than seeing the toe-tapping that comes with the disgruntled looks of people waiting to pick you up … it’s not like they had to spend endless hours on the runway or circling LaGuardia. Well, in March, they weren’t as bad.

The 19 largest airlines in the country reported an improved rate of on-time flights compared to March 2008, according to some data from the Feds. Well, the bar wasn’t set very high. On-time results for March 2008 were 71.6 percent, according to the Department of Transportation‘s Bureau of Transportation Statistics and reached 78.4 percent this year. Before you get too excited, it’s down from 82.6 percent in February.

So, what does all this mean? Airlines were late almost a quarter of the time, and that includes the padding applied to routes. Aviation analyst Michael Boyd says that a flight from Binghamton, NY to New York City is scheduled for an hour and 15 minutes – not the 45 minutes it takes.

Aviation system delays were responsible for 7.3 percent of delays, with late arrivals from other planes kicking in another 6.5 percent. Factors within airlines’ control were responsible for almost 5 percent delays.

Extreme weather? A mere 0.62 percent.