Flight cancellations have reached record lows

Weather is still the leading cause of cancellations

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Flight delay
Photograph: Shutterstock/Jaromir Chalabala

Despite what your TikTok algorithm may show you, flying these days isn't all gloom, doom and waiting around on the airport floor pleading for someone to let you use the nearest outlet. 

New data shared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shows that flight cancellations are at an all-time low, the lowest in over a decade. According to data from airlines reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the flight cancellation rate for the first half of 2024 was 1.4 percent. The most common reason for cancellations is also typically beyond any airline's control: weather. 

In 2023, flights also had a 1.4 percent cancellation rate by the end of the year, a decrease compared to 2022's cancellation rate of 2.8 percent. Of course, there's a bit of an outlier in the data from the last 10 years. In 2020, an 8.8 percent cancellation rate plagued the travel industry. In 2019, the cancellation rate was just 2.1 percent. 

“This year’s record-breaking air travel is another good sign for our economy as more Americans take to the skies than ever before,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “To help avoid travel headaches, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic action to modernize airports and expand passenger protections for a smoother travel experience.”

The low cancellation rate isn't a result of less air travel. 

On June 23, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) made history, screening the most passengers ever at U.S. airports in a single day: more than 2.99 million individuals passed through airports that Sunday, the most ever. 

Good news for travelers is that airfares are down 6 percent over the last year and can be below pre-pandemic prices. Another win for fliers: A new rule requires airlines to offer cash refunds on fares and associated fees when airlines cancel or significantly change their flights, significantly delay their checked bags, or fail to provide the extra services customers have purchased. That makes it a lot less tempting for an airline to cancel its flight unless absolutely necessary. 

The new dashboard can help customers determine what compensation they're entitled too if something goes wrong while traveling. 

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