Mar 27, 2023 - News

Revisiting Logan Airport's holiday woes

Data: BTS; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Travelers across the country felt the brunt of airline delays throughout the holiday season, but now we have the data to prove it was truly as bad as it seemed.

Driving the news: Some 71% of domestic flights departed Logan Airport on time in December 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

  • That's down from 82% in November 2022, an 8.7 percentage point drop, per recently released data from the department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

The big picture: Nationally, around 69% of December's flights departed on time.

  • That figure is generally between 75%-80% in a typical month, albeit with predictable dips in the busy — and often meteorologically challenging — summer and winter travel seasons.

Context: The real story in December was, of course, Southwest Airlines' epic meltdown.

  • About 59% of Southwest flights departed Logan Airport on time in December.
  • Just 57% of Southwest's December flights departed on time nationally, compared to 77.2% for Delta Air Lines, 73% for American Airlines and 71% for United Airlines.
  • Southwest's struggles dragged down the average for all carriers reporting data to BTS.

Zoom in: Denver International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport posted some of the country's worst on-time performance rates in December, at 57%, 62% and 66%, respectively.

  • Weather and staffing issues in Denver, in fact, helped trigger Southwest's broader systemwide mess.

Yes, but: All indications so far suggest Southwest has recovered nicely since December, though BTS' data reports lag by about three months.

  • The airline has promised to update key systems that exacerbated December's meltdown, as well as better communicate with passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled in the future.

What they're saying: "We spend a lot of money on technology and recently put in a new state-of-the-art maintenance system, a new reservation system and a new human capital workday system," Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told Axios' Eleanor Hawkins.

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