Travelers hoping for the zippiest trips might be wise to avoid booking with Alaska Airlines, according to new data.
The folks at Forbes recently teamed up with Aerospace Engineering and Research Associates (AERA) to determine the fastest airlines operating in the United States, and the numbers were not as kind as the Department of Transportation’s on-time rates would lead some fliers to believe.
“Airlines like to talk about their on-time rates, a bragging right that helps attract frequent business travelers and offsets PR disasters like bumped or mishandled passengers,” the Forbes report reads.
“But the statistics, which have been compiled by the Department of Transportation since 1987, have major flaws, including a forgiving standard: If a flight lands within 15 minutes of its scheduled arrival time, DOT counts it as on time.”
To determine what Forbes believes to be a more accurate number, analysts at AERA recorded the actual “block time” — or the flight time between the actual moment of takeoff to the moment the cabin doors reopen once the plane is parked at the gate — for more than 8 million flights in 2018.
AERA then “estimated the shortest repeatable flight time” for each U.S. route that had at least ten flights per year. This time was then compared to the average “block time” for each specific airline that operates this route.
Forbes used the Miami-to-LaGuardia route as an example: AERA found the minimum “block time” to be 164 minutes, “Airlines’ actual flight times varied from an average of 172 minutes (Frontier) to 192 minutes (American),” the report states.
Forbes’ final rankings for fastest airline were listed as follows:
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Allegiant Air
- Delta Air Lines
- Spirit Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- United Airlines
- American Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
Forbes noted that Alaska Airlines, which ended up in last place on their list of 10 fastest airlines, was recently ranked third by the Department of Transportation’s on-time ratings, while Southwest, which ranked second, came in fifth on the DoT’s list.
Forbes also warned that Hawaiian Airlines’ block times may have been helped by the “gentle,” generally less disruptive weather on many of its flight routes between the Hawaiian islands. By the same token, Alaska Airlines, which operates more flights in Alaska, may be hindered by the state’s airports, which have runways further from the gate when compared to some other major airports.