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American and Frontier Set 2021 Lows in Mishandled Baggage, Denied Boarding

Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows American Airlines mishandled the most bags in 2021, while Frontier Airlines had the most denied boardings in the year.
Statistics from 2021 collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation shows American Airlines flyers were most likely to lose their checked luggage, while Frontier Airlines passengers spent the most time waiting for the next flight.


The data comes from the February 2022 U.S. Department of Transportation Air Travel Consumer Report, releasing the year-end totals from the previous year.


In Second Year of Pandemic, Mishandled Luggage and Involuntary Denied Boardings Rose

According to the cumulative data from all of 2021, American Airlines and regional subsidiary Envoy Air mishandled the most bags in the year. While Envoy only enplaned just over 9 million bags, 9 were mishandled per 1,000 boarded. At American, 8.25 bags per 1,000 emplaned were mishandled – an increase of over 2 bags per 1,000 from 2020. The increase is partially attributed to an increase in passengers and luggage: In 2021, the Fort Worth-based airline carried over 23 million more bags. Among the major U.S. airlines, Alaska Airlines mishandled the second most bags, with 6.43 mishandled per 1,000 enplaned, and JetBlue came in third with 4.83 mishandled per 1,000 enplaned.


When it comes to mobility devices, Spirit Airlines mishandled the most entrusted to their care. The DOT data shows 4.73% of all wheelchairs and scooters mishandled in 2021. JetBlue mishandled the second most mobility devices with 3.5% mishandled, followed by Southwest Airlines with 1.88% mishandled.


In overbooked situations, Frontier passengers were the most unlikely to be involuntarily denied boarding in 2021. The airline involuntarily denied 2,063 passengers in the past year, or 0.95 per 10,000 passengers. Southwest had the second most overbookings, with 0.33 involuntarily denied boarding per 10,000 passengers, followed by American with 0.26 not boarded per 10,000.


Hawaiian and Delta Lead in On-Time Performance and Least Cancellations

On the opposite side, Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines passengers were the most likely to get to their destination on time and without cancellations. Among major carriers, Hawaiian lead the table in 2021 with a 90.15% on-time rate, followed closely by Delta with an 87.85% on-time rate. Both carriers also reported the least number of cancellations: Hawaiian only cancelled 0.44% of their schedule in 2021, while Delta cancelled 0.58% of flights.