United’s “Summer of Hell” – Can’t Meet Its Own Low Bar of 55% On Time Departures

Bloomberg has an interesting article out comparing United to its US peers using June 2015 statistics…this is 5 years into the UA/CO merger. Obviously, one would expect UA to fall behind Delta and American (even w/ the merger) in performance stats, but I did not realize just how large the gap has become.  Also, I was shocked by the low bar United has set for themselves. For example, the company’s goal calls for 55% of departures to be on time! A goal the airline fell short of in June…by almost 13%!

Only 42.2 percent of United’s flights left on time in June, far short of the company’s goal for 55 percent on-time departures. United reduced its flight schedule in July to free aircraft for use as spares when needed, United’s McCarthy said, and that has alleviated strains on the operation. “We did not meet our on-time goals under the performance bonus program, our employees were challenged to deliver the kind of service they want to provide and we did not meet the expectations of our customers,” United said in its employee newsletter.

All carriers had to deal with stormy weather in June, but the impact was felt harder at United. Delta had 19.6% of its flights delayed in June while United saw a 30% delay factor.

Obviously, location, aircraft type, and destination, play a role (and many of you may have 100% on-time UA departures this year), but here are my sad 2015 United stats:

  • Total flights – 13 (6 international and 7 domestic)
  • Delayed flights (15 minutes or more) – 12 of 13 (92%)
  • Delayed flights (60-120 minutes) – 7
  • Delayed flights (180 minutes or greater) – 2
  • Longest delay – ATL-EWR – 13 hours and 26 minutes
  • Shortest delay – 22 minutes (DUB-ORD)
  • Canceled flights – 0
  • My 1 on-time flight – EWR-PVR

What are your stats?

Check out the full article here which paints a tough picture for UA – lagging behind its peers in almost all metrics financially and operationally.

United Friendly

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  1. 55% goal? I think LLCs have higher goals than that.

    I thought this airline was going to implode when the economy starts to go down hill. Now i’m thinking it’s going to happen well before then.

  2. Living in SoCal, my experiences with UA were far better, making me wonder how much of this “delay issue” is geographical and weather dependent. My only delays with UA of over 15 min were in IAH (weather delays) and Newark (weather delays elsewhere causing incoming aircraft to be delayed). My UA flights from SNA, LAX, and even SFO were all on time–the only few exceptions being those few flights where there were delays due to weather at the destination or because of weather for the incoming aircraft. But I also flew AA and DL while on the East Coast, and weather delays there were frequent. The only mechanical delays I’ve had this year were with AA and DL flights back East. So these stories don’t apply to me and seem awfully situational and circumstantial, as well. On time stats don’t break down the circumstances, nor do they compare proportions of flights delayed at various airports for similar circumstances, which is why they can be so misleading.

  3. I am one of the many who have experienced infuriating delays with UA. Even leaving an 8 hr window to reach a meeting is inadequate with this carrier. It seems to me thst rheir network has become fragile over time. They are over stocked and planes are over subscribed through too few hubs. If weather hits one hub they have no back up plan. They also seem to be of the mind set to fix planes when they break at the gate rather than rotate them out for servicing (my impression). this arrogantly says our shareholder profits are more important than the time and inconvenience of the customer.

  4. I mostly ignore departure delays. The only one that matters is the ARRIVAL delay, inclusive of connections.

    If one is flying SFO-ORD-LGA, first leg arrived 18 mins late, but the pax made the connection and arrived LGA on time, from the pax perspective, the travel is on time.

    Maybe I was super lucky. 29 segs on UA+UAX in 2015, and only one single seg with arrival delay more than 1.5 hours.

  5. I have had no problem with any United flights whatsoever, and I fly them quite often from EWR and PHL. In fact, I have been quite impressed with their recent ability to move planes on demand to meet re-scheduling needs largely attributed to weather delays. It was a rough 6 weeks recently in the northeast with storms, and United impressed me with how they handled delays.

    I don’t think I was just lucky because my record in the last 6 weeks was only one arrival delay of 90 minutes to SFO from EWR out of 16 segments. Neither Delta nor American offer direct flights to suit my needs out of EWR or PHL so it is all a matter of location, location, location.

  6. UA has been delivering on all cylinders for us this year

    Flights left late, but never canceled
    No missed connections

    – plentiful
    – easily booked on web, including partners

    I have saved a bundle
    Short haul flights EWR-CMH = 775$; saver 12.5 awards available

    Worst – AA for awards going abroad
    DL – sky high prices
    My loyalty to UA (and Chase) is paying off

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