Nothing puts a damper on a long-awaited trip like things outside of your control. So, if you booked your flight through one of these 10 US airports, brace for delays.
A 2023 report from LendingTree analyzed ten years of data from the US Department of Transportation to sniff out which of the nation’s 50 busiest airports had the worst track record for on-time departures. They used data from summer months as a base.
1: Newark Liberty International Airport
Topping the list of the nation’s worst airports for timely departures is Newark Liberty International Airport in northeastern New Jersey. A 67.3% on-time percentage means that roughly one-third of all flights leaving the Garden State airport will reach their destination on time.
2: LaGuardia Airport
Surrounded on three sides by the East River and Flushing Bay, New York’s LaGuardia Airport’s 69% on-time departures can partially be attributed to the sporadic weather conditions that come with residing so close to the water. One poorly timed thunderstorm or a thick morning fog can throw off departures for the whole day and result in a disastrous trickle-down effect.
3: San Francisco International Airport
The only West Coast hub to land on this list, San Francisco International Airport sees 69.6% of its scheduled flights departing on time. Just like at LaGuardia, the Golden State airport’s proximity to an unpredictable body of water plays a major role in weather-impacted delays.
4: New York: John F. Kennedy International Airport
New York’s main international airport, JFK, is a busy hub all year long, with over 26 million passengers passing through in 2022 alone. Unfortunately, a 71.6% on-time departure means that more than 7 million travelers need to adjust their plans due to a more than likely delayed flight.
5: Boston Logan International Airport
Getting to Boston Logan International Airport is challenging enough, but expecting an on-time departure to your final destination might be an even bigger obstacle. Only 72.9% of flights depart the Northeastern hub on time, meaning that nearly one-quarter of travelers get stuck in the airport longer than they want to.
6: Chicago O’Hare International Airport
Representing the Midwest’s travel struggles, Chicago O’Hare International Airport is home to a 73.6% on-time departure, according to LendingTree’s data. O’Hare is the only airport on this list that doesn’t border an ocean, but its proximity to massive Lake Michigan can still account for significant weather delays coming out of the Chicago hub.
7: Philadelphia International Airport
A 74.2% on-time percentage doesn’t bode well for the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia International Airport sees nearly one-quarter of its flights delayed during the summer months, meaning plenty of frustrated travelers fill its terminals.
8: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Even with a host of politicians, celebrities, and other dignitaries flying in and out of its gates, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s on-time percentage is less than stellar. Only 74.5% of its flights see an on-time departure, making quite a few important visitors late to meet the president.
9: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Planning a relaxing weekend at the beach? Think again if you’re planning to fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The South Florida airport’s 74.7% on-time percentage means that you’re likely to lose a few hours of beach time to plane delays.
10: Raleigh-Durham International Airport
According to LendingTree’s data, almost 75% of visitors flying out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport are likely to arrive at their final destination on time. That’s good news for most, though nearly 25% of passengers will probably end up stuck with delays.
The Worst Offenders
For the most part, the airports with the worst track record for on-time departures are in the Northeastern US. A lot of people are packed into a small region, meaning more crowded airspace that can quickly be interrupted by small disturbances like spontaneous thunderstorms.
Worst Time to Travel
According to the US Department of Transportation’s data, the summer months see the most travel delays. June is historically the worst month to fly, with the biggest annual travel delays occurring at 30 of the 50 busiest airports during this time frame.
Most On-Time Airports
Of the nation’s 50 busiest airports, locations in the Western US are most likely to get you to your destination on time. Honolulu had the nation’s best on-time percentage at 87.2%, followed by Salt Lake City (86%) and Orange County, California (83%).
How to Avoid Delays
While it can be hard to plan for the unexpected, there are a few tricks that can help you navigate the uncertain world of air travel. Try to avoid connections by flying non-stop, take an early flight to avoid delay pile-ups, and consider alternative airports if your trip sees you stopping through any of these high-volume hubs.
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