New rules that prohibit airlines from keeping passengers on the tarmac for more than three hours has cut long delays, but also boosted flight cancellations in the U.S., according to a U.S. Transportation Department report released Tuesday.

U.S. flight cancellations jumped about 50% in September from the same month last year, with about 0.9% of domestic flights canceled compared to 0.6% a year earlier, according to the report, which reviews data from 18 of the largest carriers. But the September cancellation rate was actually down slightly from the previous month.

Meanwhile, only four tarmac delays lasted longer than three hours in September, down from six a year ago, the Transportation Department says. And no wonder: Airlines face fines of thousands of dollars per passenger after the prohibition on keeping passengers cooped up during lengthy delays took effect in April.

Carriers also improved their on-time arrivals and baggage handling from a year earlier. About 85% of domestic flights arrived on time in September, up from 82% a year earlier, while carriers mishandled 2.89 bags per 1,000 passengers, an improvement from 3.06 bags per 1,000 passengers a year earlier, according to the report.


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