TRAVEL DIGEST || January flights
The government says nearly 4 percent of all U.S. flights were canceled in January as severe winter storms paralyzed most of the East, but just one flight was stuck on the ground for more than three hours.
The cancellation rate in January — about 19,000 flights — is the 13th highest on record. There were 46 canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours in January, more than double a year earlier.
The only flight that was stuck for more than three hours was a Delta flight from Atlanta to Honolulu.
Hawaiian, Alaska and United Airlines had the best on-time rates in January.
JetBlue had the worst.
Flights to Cuba
Eight new airports have been given permission to schedule charter flights to and from Cuba.
Customs and Border Protection officials say charter flights to Cuba can now be scheduled from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and international airports in Baltimore, Dallas/Fort Worth, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Atlanta and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Previously, flights were only permitted from Los Angeles, Miami and New York.
Access to flights to the communist island nation will still be limited to people who meet certain travel requirements, including people from Cuba and those traveling for educational purposes or with religious groups.
The decision to allow eight new airports to schedule flights to Cuba is part of a broad effort to reach out to the Cuban people announced by President Barack Obama earlier this year.
Southwest Airlines Co. said recently that traffic in January rose 13.2 percent from a year ago, and an important revenue measurement rose as passengers paid higher average fares.
Southwest estimated that passenger revenue per available seat mile increased between 8 percent to 9 percent, compared with January 2010. An available seat mile is one seat flown one mile.
Paying passengers flew 6.23 billion, compared with 5.50 billion miles in January 2010.
The airline expanded passenger-carrying capacity by 7.5 percent, to 8.19 billion available seat miles. Airlines increase capacity by adding flights or using larger aircraft.
With traffic rising faster than Southwest could add new seats, flights were fuller.
Occupancy rose to an average 76 percent in January, compared with 72.1 percent a year earlier.