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Delta was the Most On-Time U.S. Carrier in 2022

More than 80% of Delta's scheduled flights in 2022 left on time, more than any other major U.S. airline

by Fergus Cole

March 17, 2023

Photo: Delta, Airbus A220-100. Courtesy of Trac Vu / Unsplash

If you’re fed up with flight delays and cancellations, Delta Air Lines could be your best bet for your next trip after being revealed as the most reliable U.S. airline last year.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released its annual Air Travel Consumer Report, which analyzed flight data from all major U.S. airlines during 2022. 

According to the rankings, Delta and its regional codeshare partners (Endeavor Air, Republic Airways, and SkyWest Airlines) were the most on-time carriers in the U.S. last year, with 82.1% of their scheduled flights in 2022 leaving on time or within 15 minutes of their scheduled departure.

Photo: Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

The Widget airline was followed closely by Alaska Airlines in second place, which operated 79.1% of its scheduled flights on time last year. United Airlines came in third with 78.7% of its services leaving on time, while American Airlines came in fourth with 77.1%—just above the nationwide average of 76.7%.

On the other end of the scale, Allegiant Air was revealed as the least reliable major U.S. airline in 2022, with just 63.4% of its scheduled flights taking off on time last year. This rate was only slightly bettered by JetBlue, which operated 64.6% of its flights on time, and Frontier Airlines, with 66.1%.

Interestingly, Southwest Airlines came in a reasonable sixth place out of the ten major airlines for on-time departures last year, despite the numerous flight disruptions that crippled its operations during the 2022 holiday period. However, this could be explained by the fact that DOT’s rankings didn’t consider cancellations, instead focusing on delays only. 

Southwest Airlines winter weather operations in Dallas Love Field on Feb. 17, 2021. // Stephen M. Keller, 2021

Overall, 73.2% of Southwest’s scheduled flights that went ahead last year were on time, although the low-cost carrier canceled 14.6% of its flights in December.

The second-worst U.S. airline in December for cancellations was Alaska Airlines, which canceled 7.6% of its flights that month, followed by Allegiant Air, which canceled 5.3% of its services. 

Of all canceled flights across the country in December 2022, 54.41% were with Southwest, which canceled more than 14,000 flights between December 24 and 31 alone.

Here are the full rankings on on-time performance for the ten major U.S. airlines in 2022:

Ranking Airline Flights on time
1 Delta Air Lines 82.1%
2 Alaska Airlines 79.1%
3 United Airlines 78.7%
4 American Airlines 77.1%
5 Hawaiian Airlines 75.8%
6 Southwest Airlines 73.2%
7 Spirit Airlines 73%
8 Frontier Airlines 66.1%
9 JetBlue Airways 64.6%
10 Allegiant Air 63.4%