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Reuters/Jacky Naegelen
Wheels up.
NOT LIKE CLOCKWORK

If you want to arrive on time, take these airlines (and avoid El-Al)

By Leslie Josephs

Keeping a strict schedule and traveling by air is a tricky combination. Delays abound—there’s airport congestion, inclement weather, mechanical problems, labor shortages, or the rare puppy. But certain airlines do stick more closely to their schedules than others.

Finnair topped the list of most punctual carriers in 2016 with an 89% on-time arrival rate, according a FlightStats, part of London-based aviation analysis firm FlightGlobal. Only one American airline, Alaska, made the top 10.

Israeli carrier El-Al had the lowest ranking of the 122 carriers, with flights arriving punctually 44% of the time. The analysis was based on information from regional and national aviation authorities as well as the airlines themselves.

FlightStats top airlines for on-time arrivals in 2016
1. Finnair
2. Copa Airlines
3. KLM
4. Azul
5. TUIFly
6. Iberia
7. JAL
8. UTair
9. Alaska Airlines
10. Qatar Airways

Of course, on-time in the aviation world follows a standard that wouldn’t fly for a job interview or a first date (or a fifth). A flight is considered to have arrived on time if it reaches the gate within 15 minutes of its scheduled time. The statistics do not account for block time, the amount of time an airline itself designates for a flight. If long enough, then stats for on-time arrivals are easier to achieve.

“If the airline schedules the flight too aggressively, the flight will more often fail to meet its schedule,” FlightGlobal says.