It seems that airlines have been racing to turn their products into a commodities lately. They race to set policies and rates, each one based on what its competitors are doing.
If one raises checked bag fees, almost all the rest quickly follow suit. If one squeezes more passengers into basic economy, then most of the rest do as well.
Often, the only way an airline can stand out is to do the single, basic thing that they're paid to do--but be better at it than competing airlines do. In other words, get you from point A to point B, safely and on time.
Thank God, the safety part of the equation has been near-perfect in the United States recently, with the single exception of a Southwest Airlines passenger who died in an in-flight incident last year.
That leaves only the race to be on time. It's why American Airlines treats on-time departures as the number-1 metric by which employees are judged.
And it's why Delta Air Lines must be absolutely thrilled with the news that the airline got this week. That's because Flight Global released its list of the most on-time airlines in the world.
And for the second year in a row, Delta is number-1 on the list. It's the only U.S. airline ever to earn the distinction, which is based on a year's worth of analysis of 124,000 flights every day.
If a flight arrives within 15 minutes of its scheduled arrival time, it's considered on-time according to Flight Global. By that standard, Delta gets an 89 percent on-time arrival rate.
Here's the full list of 10:
- Qatar Airways
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- United Airlines
- American Airlines
Not everything is rosy for Delta. If you're an investor, you might be a little concerned about the financials Delta released this week, which dropped its stock and led to questions about the airline industry as a whole.
But if you're a passenger, or if you're an airline trying to improve this one metric because you think it's one of the main remaining differences between you and many of your rivals, it's welcome news indeed.