U.S. airlines improved their on-time arrival record in April, with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines ranking among the top five of 19 carriers...

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U. S. airlines improved their on-time arrival record in April, with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines ranking among the top five of 19 carriers tracked by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Alaska, which along with its sister carrier, Horizon, carries nearly half the passengers flying in and out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, reported 81.6 percent of its flights arrived on schedule, compared with an average 77.7 for all the airlines surveyed.

American Airlines, which canceled more than 3,300 flights in April to inspect and repair wiring, had a 65.3 percent on-time rate, the lowest of the 19 carriers. Hawaiian Airlines had the highest rate, at 90.5 percent.

Speculation is that American, which announced that it will begin charging some economy-coach passengers $15 each way to check a bag, could experience more delays this summer if more passengers carry on luggage to avoid the extra fees.

The airlines’ improved record comes as many have reduced domestic flights to cut fuel costs. Last year’s delays were the second-worst on record, and last March was the worst on record since 1995.

Airlines also lost, damaged or delayed the arrival of fewer bags in April compared with last year. The average was 5 per 1,000 passengers compared with 6.3 in April 2007.

Alaska reported 4.2 mishandled bags compared with 5.4 a year ago April. It ranked eighth best out of the 19 airlines surveyed. JetBlue had the best record, reporting just three problem bags per 1,000 passengers. American Eagle, a subsidiary of American Airlines, ranked worst with 10.5 per 1,000.

Seventeen percent of flights leaving Sea-Tac departed late, meaning more than 15 minutes after their scheduled time. Flights were most likely to leave on time in the early morning.

Carol Pucci: 206-464-3701