American’s On-Time Performance At LAX Has Improved Greatly

Filed Under: American

I sometimes give airlines a hard time when I perceive they’re performing poorly, so I think it’s only fair to point out when they’ve greatly improved.

Over the summer I wrote about how American’s on-time performance at LAX was abysmal. As someone who flies American to/from LAX a fair amount, over the summer just about every flight I took had a long wait for a gate to become available, regardless of whether we were arriving early, on-time, or late.

American has been trying to grow like crazy at LAX, though unfortunately they may have over-extended themselves a bit. While American is in the process of adding gates at LAX, it sure seems like they should have waited until their construction was completed before adding capacity.

In mid-August American acknowledged the problem and committed to making changes to improve their performance at LAX. Specifically, American made some changes to their scheduling department, and said that if that didn’t help they’d make changes to their operations department.

In other words, American had decided that they simply had too many flights scheduled to/from LAX, rather than that operations just wasn’t handling the flights correctly.

Well, it has now been several months since summer, so have American’s operations at LAX improved?

Cranky Flier wrote a post about this topic a couple of days ago, comparing American’s performance over the past two months to the performance of other airlines at LAX, as well as to their own performance over the summer.

Flights are typically considered on-time if they arrive within 14 minutes of their scheduled arrival time, so here’s how airlines did with that metric at LAX between October 1 and November 30, 2016 (this includes both mainline and regional flights):

  • American — 82.7% on-time
  • Delta — 79.8% on-time
  • United — 78.5% on-time


That’s a fantastic improvement, especially when you consider that in June only about 65% of American flights were on-time to LAX.

Obviously the improved performance at LAX is as a result of them cutting the number of frequencies out of the airport. However, what we can’t as easily figure out is how many of these frequencies were cut due to American acknowledging their unrealistic scheduling, rather than just natural capacity cuts that happen after the peak summer travel season.

Regardless, kudos to American for their improved performance at LAX. While nobody likes a cut in flights, it was the only way to avoid a continued situation where so many of their flights were running late.

To those who frequently fly American to/from LAX, have you noticed their improved performance?

  1. Only tells part of the story. Compared to DL and UA, flight time analyses show that AA on average also builds in the most buffer time into scheduled arrivals, so they make it easier to arrive on time. And in the last year, AA has extended that buffer time on flights into LAX. I want AA to do better, but part of the improvement is manipulating the numbers…

  2. I second what DC-PHLyer stated. I commute SFO-LAX every week and they have the flights scheduled for an hour and half to an hour and forty-five minutes. Obviously this route is really only about one hour max in the air – but, we still make it “on time” because we make up for the extra 30-45 minutes in taxi, waiting on a gate, or just waiting to push back. Frankly, I just cant give a lot of credit here other than that they get an A+ for managing expectations for the few of us who actually pay attention to scheduled flight time.

  3. @DC-PHLyer

    Even if buffer time has increased, a consumer can make an educated choice based on the published schedule and know that the arrival time is now more reliable.

  4. Efficiency improvement by not spending time upgrading passengers and flying empty business/first cabins under the guise of “weight and balance” issues.

  5. @DC-PHLyer

    I take it to mean AA is now considering traffic congestion, waiting times, etc when setting its flight schedules. At least now the customer has a more realistic idea on when the flight should arrive. No different than taking into account highway congestion when planning your commute so you arrive work on time.

  6. @Stephen No, not quite. It’s a comparison of routes also served by other airlines, and the scheduled time for AA is greater. Is it reasonable for AA to expect 20 minutes more congestion than DL?

    Agree that this is still improvement because they are managing expectations, but let’s not give them too much credit (yet) for being an operational success story.

  7. Ben – AA increased the flight times on many LAX bound flights. Which helps them – gives more buffer. It happened on an IAH – LAX flight in January via a schedule change. So while AA may have reduced flights to help improve on time flights, they also are playing games with flight times.

  8. Our late Oct flight LAX-HKG was over 90 minutes late departing with no reason given. Arrived into HKG 65 mins late.Glad we had a 3 hour connection to SIN.

  9. Long time reader…love your posts. I had the unfortunate experience of choosing american airlines from LAX to GIG via MIA (used to fly LAX-GRU on KAL exclusively until this amazing route was discontinued).2.5 hour delay (barely any communication from gate agent). I understand things run late but the ATTITUDE of the gate staff.. shocking. So many other issues I don’t wish to publicly go into but NOT impressed with AA whatsoever. Compassion and communication are NOT part of the customer relations as it seems. Would love to get an advocate to help …what’s your experience lately?

  10. ExPlat with AA. Have the misfortune of always arriving from the east coast back to LAX on evening flights. Writing this while sitting on the tarmac, breathing in fumes. Landing on time and then sitting on the apron for 30, 45 or sometimes 60+ minutes is atrocious.

    I would say that I flew once every two weeks exclusively on AA for 13 months now and this issue has not improved.

    I am happy to hear they are making changes and taking this seriously but it’s nowhere close to being acceptable, especially on arrivals at, or after, 9pm when you have a bunch of trans-Pacific flights departing.

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