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Delta ranks high with on-time arrivals

Everyone has a delayed flight story.

I got stuck in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for four hours one night in 2011 while waiting for boarding to begin on my delayed flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

To be fair to Delta Air Lines, which was operating the flight, there was a severe thunderstorm blowing through Atlanta that night which grounded all flights.

In 2009, I was stuck in a Delta plane that sat on the tarmac at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport for four hours when I had to make a connection in the Big Apple on my way back from Ireland.

I never did fully understand the reason for the delay. Either there was a bad storm in Atlanta or there was a bomb scare at Hartsfield-Jackson. I can’t remember.

Delta gave me a $150 voucher that I could use on a later flight to make up for the delay so I really didn’t care.

That may make Delta sound bad, but a U.S. Department of Transportation report released Thursday shows the Atlanta-based airline mostly did right by air travelers last November.

Delta ranked third on the Department of Transportation’s list of airlines with the highest on-time arrival rates. They showed how much they love to fly by getting passengers to their destinations on time 90.6 percent of the time.

That’s actually a remarkable rate considering how much Mother Nature conspired against travelers in November with hurricanes, floods, snows storms and a Nor’easter.

And that was just in the New York area.

Only Hawaiian Airlines (94.1 percent on-time arrival rate) and AirTran Airways (91.3 percent rate) ranked better than Delta, according to the report. Nationwide, domestic airlines got people to their destinations on time a mere 85.7 percent of the time.

But AirTran won’t be around much longer because it’s merging with Southwest Airlines, which ranked eighth on the list because only 86 percent of flights arrived on time. So I guess Delta can soon expect to move up to the No. 2 slot.

Such a high rate of on-time arrivals is good for those of us who are Delta Skymiles members. One generally wants to get to one’s destination somewhere in the general ballpark of the promised time of arrival.

American Airlines had the lowest on-time arrival rate in America at only 79.6 percent.

Despite ranking high on the list of on-time arrivals, the report also shows Delta had the longest delay of a domestic in the nation. On Nov. 7, a flight from JFK to Atlanta was delayed on the tarmac for three hours and five minutes.

Geez, what is it about flights from JFK to Atlanta that they show up in tales about delayed flights on a tarmac? In all fairness to Delta, however, that delay happened when flights out of New York area airports were being delayed left and right because of the Nor’easter caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Delta may love to fly but it’s a pretty safe bet that doesn’t apply during a voracious act of God.

At least the travelers on that Delta flight fared better than the passengers stuck in a London-bound British Airways plane in Newark, N.J., on the same day.

Those passengers were stuck on the tarmac at Newark Liberty International Airport for five hours and 34 minutes, according to the Department of Transportation report.

Curt Yeomans is the Senior Reporter for the Clayton News Daily and an avid traveler. He can be reached at 770-478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at