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Airlines' first scorecard made public

The major airlines have made their on-time records public, but critics say there is little information in them that will help passengers decide which airline to take on a particular route. The Transportation Department released the figures Tuesday as its first monthly airline consumer scorecard. The report included statistics that rank 14 leading airlines according to on-time arrival, handling of baggage, and overbooking during the month of September.

American Airlines showed the best on-time performance overall. USAir was the worst, followed by Northwest Airlines. The report showed 84.5 percent of American's flights arrived within 15 minutes of the scheduled times, compared to USAir's 67.4 percent and Northwest's 69 percent.

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The least departure delays were recorded at airports for Tampa, Fla., Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta. Travelers did not fare as well at Pittsburgh, Detroit, San Francisco, and Philadelphia airports.

Some critics charge that the report is incomplete because delays resulting from mechanical problems were not included. The department was concerned that carriers might avoid making needed repairs in an attempt to improve their statistics.

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