The Best Airlines for On-Time Performance Might Surprise You

Want to arrive on time? Then consider this year’s winners.

What airlines are most likely to deliver you to the gate within 15 minutes of your scheduled arrival time? FlightStats has taken its annual look at the major airlines in the U.S. and around the world with the highest percentage of flights on time. Here are the details.

North America

Alaska Airlines topped the list with an 87 percent on-time record, beating out Delta, Virgin America, US Airways, Air Canada, West Jet, JetBlue, Frontier, American, and Southwest.

Europe

Finnair beat out nine major European airlines with its impressive 90 percent on-time record. Close behind (and more relevant to North Americans flying to Europe), KLM had a 88 percent on-time record (making this second-place finisher on time more often than Alaska, North America’s top-rated on-time airline).

Asia-Pacific

Japan Airlines (JAL) beat out Air New Zealand, ANA, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia, Qantas, IndiGo, Korean Air, Jetstar, and Jet Airways with an on-time record of 87 percent. Fun fact: With an 81 percent on-time rating, lowest-ranked Jet Airways would still have made the top four in the North American airline rankings. 

Latin America

Copa had the best on-time performance, with a 90 percent on-time record. The airline beat out LAN, Gol, TAM, Aeromexico, AVIANCA, and Aerolineas Argentinas.

Middle East and Africa

Saudia was top in this category, with an 87 percent on-time rating. It beat out Kenya Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Pegasus, EgyptAir, and Flydubai.

Low-Cost

This category looked at low-cost carriers around the world. With on-time performance of 93 percent, Iberia Express beat out big-name LCCs including easyJet.  The only American carrier in the finalist group was Virgin America, with an 82 percent on-time rating (compare that to JetBlue’s 77 percent and Southwest’s 74 percent and it starts to look pretty good).

Airline Alliance

On-time performance matters when you’ve got a codeshare connection in another country. OneWorld, with a not-terribly-impressive 79 percent on-time rating, beat out Star Alliance (77 percent on-time) and SkyTeam (76 percent on-time).

(Photo: Alaska Airlines)

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By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Aisle all the way.

Email Christine Sarkis at editor@smartertravel.com.

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