After hearing about yet another flight cancellation that resulted in hours of extra travel to get back to the county, I was reminded yet again of the love/hate relationship I have with our local regional airport. Living in a beautiful, rural area has its perks. But travel is not one of them. With sky-high prices and poor on-time performance, flying out of Arcata-Eureka (ACV) airport isn’t always a great option.

What I’ve never done is dig into the official numbers, so I decided to go take a look at the actual DOT statistics for ACV. The results surprised me.

Are We As Plagued By Cancellations As It Seems?

There is a disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to cancellations out of ACV. In my experience, the cancellation rate seems a lot higher than the actual DOT statistics show. But the best I can tell, this has been due to a really anomalous statistical performance. My personal cancellation rate into or out of ACV is 19%. Four flights out of 21 segments. Two were even over the same 2-day work trip! But this is not what the overall statistics show.

From the beginning of 2017 through 2019, there were 145 cancellations for flights departing ACV. The number of cancellations into ACV was similar: 149. Pulling the summary statistics for ACV as the destination, we’re only seeing a 4.3% cancellation rate. One out of 25 still isn’t great, but it isn’t as terrible as things might seem.

What doesn’t surprise me is the breakdown of delay reasons. A 22% delay rate is consistent enough with my experience. I always choose the early flight out, if possible, since the later flights end up being plagued by the late aircraft arrival and carrier delays shown in the stats. The fact that the *average* delay is nearly an hour and a half is miserable.

What also hurts is that cancellation often means being rebooked 24 hours (or more) later. This is often a completely unacceptable. When timing is essential, I drive 4.5 hours to Sacramento, my favorite northern California airport to fly Delta.

Conclusion

While we’re able to hop on an early flight, make a tight connection, and get to our destination on schedule, flying regionally is amazing. When I spend three extra hours at SFO waiting for our plane to arrive, just to have the flight into ACV stymied by fog, it’s miserable. It made me give up flying out of our local airport for a while. But with Avianca LifeMiles and Turkish Miles & Smiles at my fingertips for cheap award flights, I keep being drawn back again and again.

Are you based out of a regional airport? Do you have similar experiences with regional flights?