The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that aviation ended on a positive note for passengers in 2023 with the lowest flight cancellation rate in the last 10 years, alongside expanded consumer protections for travelers.
In 2023, there were 16.3 million flights and a cancellation rate below 1.2% , the lowest rate in a decade. According to the Transportation Security Administration, 2023 was also the busiest year for air travel ever.
“Thanks to the tireless work of our nation's aviation safety professionals, millions of travelers were able to fly safely and without disruption last year,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “We are glad to see this 10-year low rate of cancellations, and our department will continue to take every step to ensure air travel is smooth and safe for passengers in the new year."
Travel around Christmas and New Year’s was notably smooth. From Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, to Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, the cancellation rate was just 0.8% despite a record number of passengers flying during the busy holiday season. The cancellation rate during that same period in 2022 was 8.2%.
In addition to improving operations, the Department of Transportation has also expanded protections for airline passengers after Buttigieg pressured airlines to improve their customer service and launched an easy-to-use airline customer service dashboard with the airlines’ new commitments. Now, all 10 major airlines guarantee free rebooking and meals, and nine guarantee hotel accommodations when an airline issue causes a delay or cancellation.