Now arriving on time: Your flight and suitcase

| Categories: Municipal Airport (SPS), Fly Wichita Falls

NEW YORK – U.S. airlines are more punctual and less likely to lose your bag than at any time in more than two decades.

Travelers still have to put up with packed planes, rising fees and unpredictable security lines, but they are late to fewer business meetings and are not missing as many chances to tuck their kids into bed.

Nearly 84% of domestic flights arrived within 15 minutes of their scheduled time in the first half of the year — the best performance since the government started keeping track in 1988.

The improvement over the first six months of 2011, when 77% of flights were on time, is mostly a result of good weather and fewer planes in the sky because of the weak economy.

Airlines are also doing a better job of handling bags. Fewer than three suitcases per 1,000 passengers were reported lost, damaged or delayed from January through June, a record low.

The two areas of improvement are related: When flights are late, bags often miss their connection.

"My flights this year have been way better," said Amanda Schuier, a sales manager for a Kansas City, Mo., trucking supplier who flies roughly four times a week. "In the past six months, I've only had two delays."

If the current pace continues, the airlines will beat their best full-year performance, recorded in 1991, when nearly 83% of flights arrived on time. The worst full year was 2000, when just 73% of flights arrived on time, according to an Associated Press analysis of Bureau of Transportation Statistics data.

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