Lonely Planet Writer

No one likes a late arrival - these airlines are the best for on-time performance

If you’re already in holiday-mode when you board a flight, you may just be relaxed enough to arrive late without much of a fuss. But if you really need to get to your destination on time, it could be time to consider booking with one of the top-ranking airlines for on-time performance.  

Some airlines arrive on-time more often than others. on-time airlines
Some airlines arrive on-time more often than others. Image by Flightlevel80 / Getty Images

FlightStats has released its eighth annual on-time performance service awards, which uses data from 2016 to rank which airlines have the highest percentage of flights that get to their gate within 15 minutes of the scheduled time. Dutch airline KLM was named the top global airline network, with 88.53% of its flights arriving on time, according to the data. KLM was followed by Iberia, Japan Airlines (JAL), Qatar Airways, Austrian, ANA, Singapore Airlines, Delta Air Lines, TAM Linhas Aereas, and Qantas.

KLM landing on Maho Beach, St Maarten.
KLM landing on Maho Beach, St Maarten. Image by alljengi / CC BY-SA 2.0

While KLM took the top spot for an airline network, this year’s report has a second category for global airlines, which removes from the stats regional carriers that often operate under the banner of a larger airline. FlightStats says that the decision to separate the stats is because many airlines want to be recognised only for their own performance, and not the regional airline partners than operate flights for them. On that list, Iberia comes first, followed by JAL, Delta Air Lines, KLM, Qatar Airways, Austrian, Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA), TAM Linhas Aereas, and Qantas. Naturally, the list also reveals which are the worst airlines for on-time performance. The lowest-ranking airline was El Al, followed by Icelandair, Air India, Philippine Airlines, Asiana Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Air China, Korean Air and Hainan Airlines.

Want to get to your destination on-time? Try these airlines.
Want to get to your destination on-time? Try these airlines. Image by guvendemir / Getty Images

If you’re next trip isn’t quite global, then the stats are also broken down by region. The most on-time major airline and airline network in North America is Alaska Airlines, followed by Delta Airlines. In Europe, Iberia took home the top spot for a major European Airline and a major airline network. In Asia-Pacific, JAL is most frequently on time, while in the Middle East and Africa, Qatar Airways is first, and in Latin America, Copa Airlines is in the top spot. The top low-cost airline for getting people to their destination on time was Iberia Express.