TODAY   |  April 08, 2013

Airlines improve on-time performance

In TODAY’s annual ranking of airlines, smaller carriers like Hawaiian Air outperform more established airlines such as United and American last year, though on-time performance improved and passenger complaints declined overall. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we have the results of the new survey on the nation's airlines. you want to hear about this especially booking your summer vacation. tom costello is at reagan national airport , good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, this report says the airlines are getting better, not losing as many bags and getting better at arriving on time. if you want to sample public opinion about the state of air travel these days you head to the biggest airport in the nation, atlanta.

>> when i called and asked if i could change my flight, they said it would be over $1,000 because i booked it ahead of time.

>> i'd give them a b minus. they're just a little bit above average.

>> reporter: it turns out in today's annual ranking of the airlines the little guys come out ahead.

>> the low cost carriers as a whole tend to outperform the more established, long-term main line carriers.

>> reporter: analysts say low cost carriers are omore nimble, quicker to recover from a stumble, all in the numbers. overall airlines continue to improve on time performance, in 2012 nearly 82% of flights were on time compared with 80% in 2011 . one big reason, carriers are padding their schedules to give themselves more time in case of bad weather for delays. hawaiian air , alaska, airtran, delta and u.s. airways had the best on time numbers. jetbl jetblue, frontier, united, express jet and american were at the bottom of the list. there were fewer lost bags while slightly more travelers were bumped from flights in 2012 , but passenger complaints dropped, so are we all getting used to packed planes, paying for bags, leg room, meals, even carry-ones?

>> unfortunately the state of air travel today is the new normal. i don't think we're ever going to see the golden age of air travel come back again and that's just the sad fact of it.

>> reporter: one airline getting a big kudos, virgin america is being singled out as an airline that may be turning heads for the way it does customer service . matt?

>> good to know, tom costello, thank you very much.