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More flights are on time because airlines are padding schedules

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Skift Take

This isn’t the bad news USA Today makes it out to be. Schedules aren’t about time, they’re about setting expectations. If a passenger makes it to his destination on time or before they think they will, they’re totally satisfied.

— Jason Clampet

After decades of suffering through countless delayed flights, airline passengers are facing a new twist: Record numbers of airplanes are arriving early.

But that’s not as good as it sounds.

One in five domestic flights on major airlines got to the arrival gate 15 minutes or more ahead of schedule in 2012, a USA TODAY analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation records shows. That’s the highest early-arrival rate since the DOT began tracking arrival times in 1987, according to the analysis of tens of millions of DOT flight records.

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