NEW YORK (AP) -- The nation's largest airlines ran fewer flights on time in March than in the previous month, the Department of Transportation said Monday.
U.S. airlines arrived on time 82.2 percent of the time in March, down from 86.2 percent in February. A hail storm in March led to three planes sitting on the tarmac for more than three hours.
The average on-time rate was improved from a year earlier, when it was 79.2 percent. Hawaiian ran the most flights on schedule, followed by Air Tran and U.S. Airways. United, Virgin America and regional carrier ExpressJet were at the bottom of the list. A flight arriving within 15 minutes of its posted arrival time is considered on time.
At the end of March, there were no flights considered chronically delayed for two consecutive months. The government calls a flight chronically delayed if it arrives more than 30 minutes late more than half the time.
The three planes that were stuck on the ground for more than three hours in March were all flying to St. Louis on the same day -- March 17. They included an American flight from Dallas and a regional flight from New York's LaGuardia and Minneapolis. Airlines can get hit with huge fines for keeping passengers on the ground for more than three hours, but there are exceptions when safety is a concern.
Airlines lost or damaged more bags in March than the month before, but less than a year earlier. February's rate of mishandled bags was the lowest since the Department of Transportation began keeping records in 1987.
DOT also said Monday that more passengers were denied boarding due to overselling in the first quarter of 2012 than the same period a year ago. It didn't break out March figures for bumped passengers.
Samantha Bomkamp can be reached at www.twitter.com/SamWillTravel