Representatives with the Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights tell ANN an unusual public meeting was held Thursday, called by the DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and attended by over 150 airline representatives, on how to fix inaccurate and incomplete data reporting of flight delays and strandings.
At the meeting, aviation consumer groups charged the agency was misleading the flying public with flight delay statistics that omit the most serious delays caused by flight cancellations and diversions, called for the agency to correct misleading testimony submitted to Congress by high DOT officials at April hearings on strandings, and suggested ways to fix reporting deficiencies.
“DOT delay statistics are inaccurate to the point of being deceptive,” said Paul Hudson, executive director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP). “For example, the agency now admits that there were over 16,000 flight diversions last year but it collected no data on the delays this caused passengers. The DOT also admits that it does not count cancellations, which are now one in 20 flights, as causing any delay. It also has now admitted it fails to record time on tarmac confinements of up to 12 hours, including the mass stranding by JetBlue at JFK Airport in February that received national headlines.”
CAPBOR tells ANN the group’s Chief Research Director, Mark Mogel, discovered the DOT was not counting flight diversions and cancellations as ‘time on the tarmac’ in its computations of airline delays.
“If the agency that is charged with preventing deceptive practices by airlines does not correct its own inaccurate testimony and public statements, it is itself guilty of misleading the public and Congress,” Hudson added. “Current DOT reports on airline flight delays are like a doctor telling a patient all about his hang nails, but omitting to mention he also has cancer.”