Yesterday's WSJ had an article called Big Guys Finish Last in 2010 Airline Rankings. It compared the performance of the top nine American airlines when it came to percentages of on-time flights, rates of lost bags, cancellations, passengers bumped from oversold flights and complaints filed with the Department of Transportation. Then the rankings in each area were averaged. It should come as no great surprise to any one who regularly flies with them that Delta came in at number nine (with a bullet to the head of frustrated passengers).
Delta ranked dead last in cancelled flights and customer complaints and next to last in lost baggage and on-time flights. Only their number three ranking in bumped passengers prevented their average rank of 7.4 from being even worse. As it was, that was still a full point worse than American, the second lousiest U.S. air carrier.
I rarely check bags any more, have never been bumped from a flight, haven't had one cancelled on me in years, and have never had cause to file a complaint with the DOT. But when it comes to on-time flights, my experiences with Delta jive with their low ranking.
In the last year, I've flown round trip to Denver on Delta at least nine times, which means eighteen individual flight segments there and back. To the best of my recollection, four of the these flights have been on time. Yes, four out of eighteen have left and arrived as scheduled. It doesn't matter the day of the week or the time of day. If I'm on a flight to Denver from Minneapolis or the other way around, chances are it will be delayed. I've changed flights the same day and had them delayed. My powers in this matter are frightening and I apologize to my fellow passengers for the collateral damages inflicted by them.
A number of reasons have been offered for these delays: weather, waiting for a plane to arrive from somewhere else (most common), mechanical, etc. Most of the delays haven't been all that long, an hour maybe two tops. But they are frustrating as your day's schedule is usually keyed off your flights when you are travelling. I'm just lucky that these trips only involve going to one destination. My sympathies go out to poor souls who have to scramble to catch a connecting flight (usually at MSP) after the now almost inevitable Delta delay.