Alaska Airlines saw the fewest cancellations of any U.S. airline this summer


  • Alaska Airlines had the best on-time performance and lowest number of flight cancellations this summer, with only 0.3% of flights canceled and 81.7% arriving on time.
  • The Southwest ranks second with a cancellation rate of 0.9%, but is still three times higher than Alaska. Southwest also has an on-time performance rate of 71.1%.
  • Delta Air Lines had the second-best on-time performance after Alaska, with 83.7% of flights arriving on time and a cancellation rate of 1.7%.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, delays and cancellations may be more common at airports than suitcases and neck pillows. Throughout the summer, many airlines went through weekends with thousands of delays, some even canceling hundreds of flights in just a few days.

Photo: Ontario International Airport

However, one carrier stands out from the others in its ability to avoid major operational disruptions. Alaska Airlines, a mid-market airline based in Seattle, has outperformed the rest of the U.S. airline market in reliability this summer season. Of the airline’s flights, only 0.3% were canceled during the busiest months of the year, with 81.7% arriving on time.

How have other airlines fared in relation to Alaska?

No other airline has been able to match Alaska’s reliable performance this summer, emerging as the leader in best on-time performance and fewest cancellations. The southwest region comes second in terms of cancellations, with only 0.9% of flights cancelled. However, this number is still three times higher than that of Alaska. In terms of cancellations, Southwest ranks fifth, with an on-time performance rate of 71.1%.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737

Photo: Markus Mainka | Stock struggle

American Airlines also finds itself in a unique position, ranking third on both lists. 1.4% of the airline’s flights were canceled during the three-month period, and 76.5% of them arrived on time. Despite this rather good performance, American has recently come under fire, now facing a $4.1 million lawsuit for illegal delays.

After Alaska, Delta Air Lines had the second-best on-time performance, with 83.7% of the carrier’s flights arriving on time. In addition, the airline’s cancellation rate was 1.7%.

How did Alaska achieve this feat?

Given these numbers, many may wonder how Alaska Airlines has managed such reliable performance, especially during the busiest season of the year. Alaska’s leadership attributes the carrier’s success to effective communication and collaboration. In a statement, Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muhlen said the following:

“We’ve proven that we can do anything when we work together as one team. We’ve shown that every trip matters and every guest matters. We earn the trust and loyalty of our guests by delivering on our promises every day and every guest’s contributions. A team member makes a difference.”

However, Alaska’s success cannot be attributed solely to the carrier’s management, but partly to the geographic advantages the airline enjoys within the market. While many delays and cancellations can be attributed to a carrier’s operating systems, some factors are beyond the carrier’s control.

Specifically, severe weather is a major cause of delays and cancellations at airports, and in the summer, thunderstorms, hurricanes and other natural events can lead to operational disruptions. However, the geography is on the Alaskan side during June, July and August, as the carrier primarily operates out of West Coast airports, which experience disproportionately fewer severe weather events.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737

Photo: Thiago P. Trevisan | Stock struggle

While excessive heat and smoke from wildfires can cause delays, thunderstorms and tornadoes are much less common along the West Coast (although one hit Southern California recently), resulting in fewer delays near major operating bases in Alaska .

Although geographic distribution may seem unimportant, consider that JetBlue, an airline with a similar mid-market business model, had an on-time performance rate of just 60.7% in the summer months. Notably, JetBlue’s primary operations are along the Atlantic coast that is prone to thunderstorms.

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