The world’s 20 most punctual airlines
Qantas and Jetstar Asia both made the cut.
Flight delays suck. Which airlines screw up their flights the least often?
The newly-released 2019 OAG Punctuality League identifies the most punctual airlines around the world. Here are the top 20 airlines globally and their percentage of on-time flights:
|Rank||Airline||% on-time flights|
|3||Hong Kong Airlines||88.11%|
|7||LATAM Airlines Group||85.60%|
|11||All Nippon Airways||84.43%|
|16||Delta Air Lines||83.08%|
An important caveat: OAG defines a punctual flight as one that arrives or departs within 15 minutes of its scheduled arrival or departure time. That's similar to the definition used by most countries and measurement authorities, but it's not necessarily how passengers think. I've seen plenty of people grumble about a flight that lands 15 minutes late. (Also remember that "arrival" is not technically the same as actually being at the gate, which can take longer.)
That list includes some familiar regional names from the Asia-Pacific, including Qantas in sixth place and Singapore Airlines at number 15. Jetstar Asia also makes the cut, which might surprise local passengers given how frequently Jetstar Australia comes at the bottom of local punctuality rankings. The odds are good you haven't flown with Panama-based Copa Airlines, which took out the top spot. While it didn't make the top 20, Virgin Australia's 78.32% score is fairly respectable.
For frequent flyers, these numbers are interesting, but they may not have a big impact on your plans. After all, once you've decided to focus on a single frequent flyer scheme, something I always advise when setting your frequent flyer goals, then you're likely to choose an airline based on the alliance it's in, rather than its long-term performance.
As well, while averages give some idea of overall performance, they don't highlight performance on routes, which can be much more variable. If you're regularly flying between Sydney and Melbourne (Australia's most popular route), you'll want to pick the most reliable airline on that route, rather than worrying about overall performance.
Finally, the fact that even the most reliable airline in the world still has 10% of flights that run late reminds us that flying is never a perfect business. Stay calm, remember to keep your battery charged and check if your insurance can help out.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.