American airlines, often criticized for late flights and lost baggage, are improving their services.
The latest Bureau of Transportation Statistics data analyzed by the Associated Press show that 84 percent of domestic flights arrived within 15 minutes of their scheduled time in the first half of the year. That is their best performance since record-keeping began in 1988. During the comparable 2011 period, 77 percent of the flights were on time.
Airlines also improved their baggage handling with a record low rate of fewer than three suitcases lost, damaged or delayed for every 1,000 passengers.
That, of course, goes hand-in-hand with providing on-time flights and maintaining flight connections.
The poor economy and Mother Nature helped.
Fewer people are flying due to the recession, which kept some planes grounded and made for less congestion on the tarmac. Fewer thunderstorms and less snow also made it easier to keep flights on schedule. At the nations 35 largest airports, takeoffs last year were down 10 percent from 2007.
Airlines have instituted several changes such as improved technology that has facilitated boarding and loading of baggage.
Newer planes mean fewer maintenance problems.
Schedules have been adjusted to allow more flight time to avoid delays that can bring stiff government fines. The changes are a beginning, but there is still much room for improvement.
When airlines strive to improve, passengers notice.