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United Airlines turning around on-time performance woes

Dec 04, 2012 12:27 am

Skift Take

United has much ground to gain in winning back traveler confidence, but the airline’s November on-time-performance numbers could begin the process. And, hey, it’s not as bad as American.

— Dennis Schaal

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United's counters at Boston's Logan airport. DearEdward / Flickr.com


United Airlines, which experienced more than its share of operational woes this year, delivered its best monthly on-time performance for the year in November.

Chicago-based United was on time, defined as arriving within 14 minutes of the scheduled time, for 85.5 percent of domestic flights during the month, despite such weather challenges as the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29 and the Nor’easter that followed, along with the usually busy Thanksgiving travel period, the airline said. Its international on-time rate was 81.2 percent.

Those on-time rates are far better than United experienced during the summer, when heavier passenger traffic combined with problems with a new computer system at United to cause rampant delays and cancelations. For example, United was on time just 64.1 percent of the time in July, according to federal statistics, while no other major network carrier was below 77 percent.

The November rates also come despite a computer glitch on Nov. 15 that that delayed hundreds of flights across the country, mostly on the East Coast. The latest problem was unrelated to the switchover to a new passenger reservation system. Instead, it involved the dispatch system software that enables United to communicate with airplanes before departure.

But the airline recovered for the heavy Thanksgiving travel period. Between Nov. 16 and Nov. 25, 88.3 percent of United’s flights arrived on time, the second-best performance over the past five years, the airline noted. On Thanksgiving Day, 95.4 percent of United flights arrived on time, the second-best single day since Jan. 1, 2008, it said.

The airline will award employees a $100 bonus to recognize the performance. United pays eligible employees $50 each month that domestic or international flights arrive on time at least 80 percent of the time and $100 if the company exceeds both on-time goals.

United Express carriers also posted their best monthly performance for 2012 in November, with 80.1 percent of United’s regional flights arriving on time, United said.

(c)2012 the Chicago Tribune. Distributed by MCT Information Services

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