The latest statistics from the Department of Transportation show an increasing number of bags being lost by the commercial airlines. In addition only about 75% of commercial flights arrive on time. With these statistics it may now be the time to start looking into flying privately.

Last week the Dept of Transport released it's latest "Air Travel Consumer Report", with statistics for November 2006. This shows:

  1. On time Arrival Record. For the 12 months to November, nearly all the major carriers were around 75% for their on time arrival record. In other words they missed their slots 25% of the time, by 15 minutes or more. Among the major airlines Southwest had the best on time record at 80.3% (the smaller Frontier and Hawaiian were the only two with better records). The average for all airlines for the 12 months was 75.5% which was 1.9% worse than the 77.4% ontime in the 12 months to November 2005.
  2. Arrivals by Airport. In November the airport with the best on time arrival record was Phoenix Sky Harbor at 84.4%. The one with the worst was Newark Liberty International at 59.2%.
  3. Flights Late 80% of Time. There are 80 specific flights that are late (by 15 minutes or more) more than 80% of the time.
  4. Flight Cancellations. On average 1.6% of flights were canceled. American Eagle had the worst record cancelling 3.5% of it's flights whereas JetBlue and Continental only canceled 0.3%.
  5. Mishandled Baggage. The rate per 1,000 passengers has gone up to 6.32 from 5.04 a year ago. So roughly one in 150 people will have a problem of either lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered bags. This rate has been increasing for the past 4 years.

Furthermore, The Wall St Journal (subscription required) today reported on the varying policies that airlines apply when they lose your luggage. The commercial airlines don't fully reimburse you for the things you need to buy if your luggage is lost. The most skimpy airlines will only give you a bathroom amenity kit and $25 a day for four days. Even the more "generous" Continental only gives you $250 if your bag is lost for more than a day. These sums won't exactly cover a lot, if for instance you have to go out and buy a new set of clothes for an important business meeting the next day.

Last week the Journal (subscription required) had a story about passengers being stranded for hours due to weather and airline staff shortages. One plane full of passengers was left out on the tarmac for 8 hours and another for 10 hours. Not only did people miss meetings or were delayed in getting home or going on vacation, but these planes had hardly any food or drinks on board. All the recent cutbacks in both flight crews and support staff at the major airlines have exacerbated this problem.

If all this starts to make you think about flying privately, then check into aircraft chartering and fractional aircraft ownership. You can also read about the prime reasons that people decide to fly privately.