Airline on-time performance: How prompt is your favorite carrier?

The U.S. Department of Transportation has published its monthly list of the most on-time airlines. As usual — thanks to that great island weather — Hawaiian Airlines is No. 1.

It’s important to note that an “on-time arrival” actually means that a plane parked at the gate within 14 minutes of its schedule arrival time. It’s also important to understand an airline sets its own schedule, and some carriers are more aggressive with scheduling flight times than others. If it wants, an airline could “pad” it’s schedule to ensure it rises on this list.

Most airline executives tell me that on-time performance is the single-biggest driver of customer satisfaction.

Here’s the whole list, both for this month, and the year to date:

Airline On-Time Arrival Pct May 2013

Carrier                 On-Time Arrival Pct.
1 Hawaiian                    92.37
2 Alaska                        89.62
3 Delta                          86.24
4 AirTran                       83.11
5 SkyWest                    82.21
6 US Airways                81.99
7 Pinnacle                     81.16
8 JetBlue                       80.28
9 United                         79.72
10 Southwest                79.01
11 Virgin America          78.14
12 American                  76.22
13 ExpressJet               73.89
14 Mesa                        73.83
15 Frontier                    73.23
16 American Eagle       69.89
All Airlines                     79.42

Airline On-Time Arrival Pct Jan-May 2013

Carrier                        On-Time Arrival Pct.
1 Hawaiian                     92.13
2 Alaska                         87.79
3 Delta                           86.06
4 Virgin America            85.11
5 AirTran                        83.11
6 US Airways                 82.01
7 Southwest                  81.27
8 United                         80.02
9 SkyWest                     79.95
10 Pinnacle                   79.54
11 Mesa                        78.51
12 American                 77.70
13 JetBlue                    74.40
14 American Eagle       72.13
15 ExpressJet              71.53
16 Frontier                   71.22
All Airlines                   79.40

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