American Airlines Says Stats Show They’ve Got Their Operation Back In Order

In a note Tuesday morning, Senior Vice President David Seymour congratulated employees on the airline’s “best-ever performance for both the holiday peak travel period and the entire fourth quarter of 2019.”

Peak holiday (December 18 – January 6):

  • “D0” 64.35
  • On-time arrivals (A-14) 78.4%
  • Completion factor 99%

He called the fourth quarter of 2019 American’s “strongest operational quarter on record” with “highest or second-highest results across the board for a quarter for combined mainline and regional CF, turn performance (T-0) and A-14.”

American had 15 days during the year with no mainline flight cancellations. Eight of those days were in December, including December 30 and 31. Six of the 15 days took place during peak Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods.

Seymour attributed much of this to an end to the mechanics’ work slowdown, though not in so many words. The airline argued much of its summer problems stemmed from beginning each day with far more planes out of service than usual. That’s no longer the case,

Having fewer aircraft out of service after the challenges of this past summer was a driving factor in our improved performance. With more serviceable aircraft at the start of and throughout the operating day, more flights departed and arrived on time, fewer flights were cancelled and there were fewer disruptions to our customers’ travels. On Dec. 24, we marked our lowest number of aircraft out of service (AOS) at the start of the day since the merger — only 13 — and December was our best-ever performance month in terms of AOS.

American still hasn’t come to terms on a new contract with its mechanics, though negotiations resume next week. They’re now negotiating with flight attendants and pilots as well, so all of their three largest labor groups present risk to the carrier. However a strong court ruling against mechanics seemed to get them back to work, and may help prevent job actions from other work groups as well.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, as they say. And American’s performance hasn’t been industry-leading. But hopefully they’re past where you needed to actively avoid flying them, as was the case last summer.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Gary,

    it would be helpful if you could share the results for December among all the airlines to see how they compare to each other.

    Or direct us to such a source.

    Many thanks.

  2. @ryby — According to the December stats, which confirm the trend, AA is now America’s second most reliable airline (after DL) when it comes to on-time performance and cancellations.

    There is a lot of misconception about AA’s operational performance this year. Gary always talks about AA’s poor “summer” performance, but it was actually the mechanics’ slowdown in spring that was the problem. By summer, armed with a court order (potentially exposing the mechanics to millions of dollars in damages for their illegal slowdown) AA’s performance “magically” recovered. Since then, it’s gotten better and better, to the point where they’re now challenging DL for the top spot (a challenge I don’t expect them to win, not that it really matters at this level).

  3. AA did great over the holidays for me and my family, only delay was out of Phillie (shocker) back to PHX and while we left an hour late, we arrived only 20 minutes late which was just fine.

    Also, the flight crew was amazing and thanked my wife for being EXP and offered me a few snack too :). Nice touch. Change is coming all you so you better start learning to hate UAL.

  4. @sunviking82 — Glad you have a nice trip, but it’s quite rare that I put the words “amazing” and “American flight crew” together. Just getting a good attitude and a smile puts the crew in the top 10% of AA. Not that UA is appreciably better, though. I just assume the job wears them down over time. And everyone who works in PHL seems worn down on day one.

  5. Congrats to all who make it to their destinations with AA. Someday maybe I’ll be one of you. My December luck.

    ORD to FTW. Morning flight canceled, booked standby on noon flight. Cancelled. Booked on evening flight. Cancelled. Rebooked for a flight 48 hours after original departure. Rented car instead.

    SDF to DFW. Flight delayed repeatedly, 10 hours in all. Rebooked on a later flight which actually left earlier, only three hours later than its schedule, five hours later than my schedule.

    I am keeping track now. That’s 11 of my last 13 AA itineraries with major delays or cancellations. Yes, I know, I should stop booking them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.