Americans are traveling in record numbers. While flight cancellations are down compared to last year, delayed flights are up significantly. Globally, there are 30,000 delayed flights daily, with about 8,000 U.S. delays. And certain U.S. airports have more delayed flights than others. So, while you can’t control flight complications, you can put yourself in the best situation for your upcoming flight by picking an airport with the best on-time record and avoiding those with regular delays.
But Why Are So Many Flights Being Delayed Across the Country?
Add up seasonal storms, old technology, sold-out flights, packed airspace, plus staffing issues, and getting to your vacation destination on time seems more like a getaway game of chance.
It’s a Nationwide Problem
“Americans are paying the price of years of chronic underinvestment by the federal government in our nation’s air travel system,” says U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman.
“Flying is an adventure in itself. You may be kicking, screaming, and questioning your decision to leave home before arriving at your destination. This rollercoaster of emotions is hardly desirable when trying to enjoy your trip, especially if you’ve been looking forward to it for some time.
Ranking America’s Best and Worst Airports
Ahead of the busy holiday travel season, AirHelp looked at large airport flight disruption data from the summer to determine the best and worst airports for on-time departures.
Avoid These 10 Airports If You Can
“Holiday travel through American airports is almost synonymous with delays, cancellations, and other forms of chaos preventing travelers from reaching their destinations without headaches. Many airlines are still operating at a reduced capacity due to cutbacks made during the pandemic and in the current economic climate – airports and airlines will hopefully hire seasonal staffers to meet the increased demand and avoid significant delays and cancellations for travelers over the holiday season,” said Tomasz Pawliszyn, CEO, AirHelp.
So, put yourself in the best position to avoid disruptions by avoiding these 10 U.S. airports.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
This Miami area airport in Broward County had 42.63% of flights disrupted. So, while it is conveniently located to beach destinations, your odds of flight delays are greater.
Orlando International Airport (MCO)
While Orlando’s Walt Disney World is the Happiest Place on Earth, the airport is another story. America’s 7th busiest airport had 42.11% of flights delayed or affected and is chaotic no matter what month you visit.
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Serving over 43 million travelers a year, this New York City adjacent airport had 39.19% of flights disrupted. As a major United Hub, odds are that United fliers faced a lot of delays and challenges in 2023.
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
Located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., this major Southwest Airlines hub has 39.10% of flights disrupted.
Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
Another Southwest Airlines hub, Chicago Midway, had 36.28% of flights disrupted. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that the airport calls itself “the world’s busiest square mile for incoming and departing airline flights.”
Denver International Airport (DEN)
This U.S. airport is the third busiest in the world—their sheer number of flights caught up to them this summer, with more than a 1/3 affected.
Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
The primary airport for America’s New England states had 34.6% of flights disrupted this summer.
Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)
Located only 5 miles from downtown Las Vegas, 34.26% of flights were disrupted for this major vacation and convention destination.
Miami International Airport (MIA)
Miami International Airport has 1,000 daily flights to 167 domestic and international destinations. And 34.23% of flights did not leave on time, so pack your patience.
Tampa International Airport (TPA)
While J.D. Power named Tampa International Airport the #1 Large Airport in customer satisfaction for the second consecutive year, 1/3 of its flights were disrupted in June, July, and August.
The Best Airports in America
Airhelp’s analysis also revealed the U.S. airports with the lowest percentage of flight disruptions. So, consider these ten airports if you’re looking for smoother travel and can be flexible.
Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
The largest airport in Hawaii had only 18.61% of flights disrupted. Now, that’s one way to start the perfect trip to paradise.
Portland International Airport (PDX)
The largest airport in Oregon is not only shared with the U.S. military, but a little less than 1/5 of its flights were disrupted.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
Another joint airport with the military is located only 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis and had only 20% of flights disrupted.
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
Serving more than 26 million passengers a year, this airport is not only loved for its proximity to ski slopes but its on-time record—only 20.23% of flights were affected by delays or cancellations.
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
This city-owned public airport in the heart of Silicon Valley had 20.91% of flights disrupted. So, consider this alternative instead of flying into San Francisco International Airport, especially if you’re traveling south of San Fran.
San Antonio International Airport (SAT)
This former WWII airport close to downtown San Antonio, Texas, had a little more than 1/5 of its flights disrupted.
Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
The gateway to Northern California’s iconic destinations, visitors to Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and Napa will love this airport’s on-time record – only 21.48% of flights had disruptions.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
One of the U.S.’s famous airports, LAX is not only America’s second busiest and the world’s third busiest, but it has a surprisingly positive on-time record. Only 22.88% of its 645 daily flights were affected.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Known as Sea–Tac, the 8th largest U.S. airport for passenger activity had only 22.9% of flights affected.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
This civil–military public airport, 3 miles east of downtown Phoenix, is America’s 8th busiest airport, yet only 23.26% of flights are disrupted.
Best Swaps to Keep Your Travels on Time
With no end in sight for flight delays, you may need to get creative to keep the odds of getting to your destination on time in your favor.
Flying to Florida – the West Coast is the Best Coast
Every airport along Florida’s east coast experienced issues with nearly 40% or more of their flights affected. Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) and Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) are more reliable options for those flying south this winter.
RSW is Naples-adjacent and only a 2-hour drive from Miami; the airport delivered 70% of its flights on time this summer. ECP, right next to the beach and only 2 hours from Tallahassee, had 73.76% of its flights on time without disruption.
Traveling to Tampa?
Sarasota/Bradenton Int’l Airport (SRQ) is far more reliable and less than an hour’s drive from the city center. Compared to Tampa International (the nation’s 10th worst airport this summer, SRQ delivered 73.84% of its flights on time without disruption.
Heading to New York City?
Use LaGuardia Airport. This was the only major airport servicing NYC that delivered over 70% of its flights without issue. And bonus, it is closer to the city than JFK.
Experts Weigh In on How to Prevent and Minimize Flight Delays to Keep Your Travel Plans on Track
Americans are packing airports looking to fulfil their wanderlust. Add in storms, old technology, sold-out flights, packed airspace, plus staffing issues, and getting to your destination on time seems more like a getaway game of chance.
So, if you’re flying soon, increase your odds of smooth travels with these tips from full-time travelers, pilots, and flight attendants.
Flying with a Baby? 22 Tips from Parents, Flight Attendants, and Frequent Travelers
With international travel restrictions gone, people are returning to air travel in droves. However, for those flying with a baby, it may be their first time navigating airports and airplanes with their little one in tow. While it may seem daunting, with some pre-planning, smart packing, and the right mindset, flying with a baby can be a positive part of your adventure.
As there is no one-size-fits-all advice for every family or every baby, we gathered advice from 75 moms, dads, flight attendants, pilots, and frequent travelers. This list of 22 tips for flying with a baby summarizes their best advice.
Long Haul Travel is Back. Here’s How to Survive Those Flights and Make Time Fly
Do you want to travel across the world but are nervous about the long flight? Or perhaps you’ve already booked a dream trip and want to start to prepare? We’ve got you covered.
Lonely Planet’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2024 Unveiled
Wanderlust is here, and it’s not going anywhere. 64% of global travelers say they’ll reduce other areas of their personal spending to prioritize trips in 2024. If you’re still searching for a fantastic vacation spot for next year, stop looking.
Lonely Planet’s vast network of local travel experts, writers, and publishing partners named the most sought-after destinations of 2024 across five key categories. Each category features ten destinations chosen for their topicality, unique experiences, ‘wow’ factor, and ongoing commitment to sustainability and community.
Small Vacation Budget? No Problem! New Report Unveils The Top 10 Cheapest Destinations
If you’re one of the 20% of recently surveyed Americans whose financial concerns significantly impact the decision to travel soon, this new report could save your next vacation. If you’re over road trips and ready to explore more of the world, here are the top 10 cheapest destinations on average for US travelers based on flight prices.