Top 6 US Airlines With The Fewest Delays

Let’s face it: Some airlines have better records for their flights being on time than others. If you really want to hedge your bet so your travel plans won’t be delayed or disrupted, that means you need to book tickets on an airline with a high on-time percentage.

The good news is that annual research from the Official Airline Guide (OAG), which provides data and insight about travel, can help make your travel planning easier. What’s even better is that OAG just released its annual Punctuality League report, noting which airlines and airports have the best record for being, well, punctual.

“In 2020, airlines and airports faced major upheaval from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” John Grant, senior analyst at OAG, says in the report. “As a result, their operations either ceased or were severely challenged as airlines cut their networks, reduced fleet sizes, furloughed staff, and navigated through coping with the emergence of COVID-19 variants.”

While conducting its research, OAG collects data “from every journey, every booking, every takeoff and landing, departure, and delay,” it explains. The result is a tabulation of overall on-time performance, rather than simply looking at arrivals or departures.

Interestingly, despite the challenges of operating while the pandemic continues, some airlines were able to maintain high on-time performance levels. In fact, six US airlines were able to achieve on-time performance levels of 80 percent or higher.

Let’s get right to it. Here are those six US airlines which had 80 percent or higher on-time performance levels in 2021.

1. Hawaiian Airlines

The US airline with the highest on-time performance level in 2021 was Hawaiian Airlines. In fact, the airline logged an 89.9 percent on-time performance level, according to OAG’s research.

That news isn’t too surprising given the airline’s history. As Hawaiian Airlines notes, “We’ve remained the nation’s most punctual carrier, according to the US Department of Transportation’s data, since 2004.”

Hawaiian Airlines, which began operations in 1929, offers 180 flights each day to the Hawaiian Islands, 16 US mainland cities, and 10 destinations throughout Asia and the Pacific.

2. Delta Airlines

Delta, which is headquartered in Atlanta, is the second-largest airline in the US because it offered 185.8 million seats for sale in 2021, according to data from Simple Flying.

OAG’s research found that Delta is also the second most-punctual US airline. In 2021, the airline had an 88.4 percent on-time performance level, OAG reports.

3. American Airlines

American Airlines, which was founded in 1930, is the largest US airline. That’s because, in 2021, it offered 216.6 million seats for sale, Simple Flying reports. The airline, with its regional partner American Eagle, offers 6,700 flights each day to 350 destinations in 50 countries.

Despite that scope of operations, American was still the third most-punctual US airline in 2021. OAG notes that in 2021, American had an 85.1 percent on-time performance level.

4. United Airlines

United Airlines was the fourth most-punctual US airline last year. As OAG points out, the airline posted an 83.5 percent on-time performance level in 2021.

Coincidentally, United was also the fourth-largest airline in the US in 2021 — offering 140.6 million seats for sale, Simple Flying notes.

United, which is based in Chicago, operates 3,118 flights each day to 252 US cities as well as 80 international locations. Much of that traffic departs its hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington, DC

5. Alaska Airlines

Working with its regional partners, Alaska Airlines serves more than 120 destinations across the US, as well as Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica. The airline, which is based in Seattle, announced last year that it will soon begin offering daily nonstop flights from Seattle-Tacoma to Miami, which means Alaska Airlines will serve 100 destinations with nonstop flights.

In 2021, Alaska Airlines recorded an 82.6 percent on-time performance level, OAG reports.

6. Southwest Airlines

Southwest, which offered 168.9 million seats for sale in 2021, is the third-largest US airline, Simple Flying points out. The airline, which is based in Dallas, operated more than 4,000 weekday departures among 121 airports and across 11 countries in 2021.

Southwest is also the final US airline with an on-time performance level greater than 80 percent in 2021. Indeed, last year its on-time performance level was 81.2 percent, OAG’s research determined.

For more information about ensuring your air travel will be on time, be sure to read

These 10 US Airports Are The Best In On-Time Performance.

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