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Airlines’ on-time rate declines a bit

WASHINGTON — Your flight was more likely to be late in January than a year earlier, mostly because of poorer performance at several smaller airlines.

The government said Tuesday that 81 percent of flights arrived within 14 minutes of schedule during January. That’s down from 83.7 percent in the same month last year, although better than in December.

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Virgin America had the best rating, 93.1 percent, knocking a frequent leader, Hawaiian Airlines, into second place. Frontier Airlines, ExpressJet, and American Eagle got the worst marks. All scored at least 6 points worse than a year before.

Among the five largest US airlines, Delta had the best on-time record, followed by Southwest, US Airways, United, and American. Delta and United improved from a year earlier; the others got worse.

Among large airports, Newark Liberty International had the worst record for on-time arrivals, 73.2 percent. The best were Las Vegas, 86.9 percent, and Phoenix, 86.7 percent.

About 1.5 percent of all scheduled US flights were canceled, the same as in January 2012.

There were 3.4 reports of baggage being late, damaged, or lost per 1,000 passengers, up from 3.3 a year earlier.

American Eagle, the regional affiliate of American Airlines, had the highest rate of mishandled bags — it’s held that distinction for the last three years. Virgin America had the lowest rate.

Consumer complaints jumped 46 percent, but few passengers bothered to file a formal complaint — 1,368, up from 935 a year before.

Southwest and Alaska Airlines had the lowest complaint rates; Frontier had the highest, followed by United, American, and American Eagle.

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