When it comes to flight delays, some airports certainly fare better than others. But which ones rank worst?
According to a new report from travel expert Asher Fergusson, New Yorkers tend to bear the brunt of the chaos. Folks traveling through Phoenix’s airport, however, are more inclined to depart on time.
Using data from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Fergusson and his team analyzed 25 major U.S. airports based on the percentage of on-time and canceled domestic flight departures; average domestic flight delays for both departures and arrivals; average taxi-in and taxi-out times in minutes per flight; and average wait times in customs lines.
Each airport was also assigned a delay index “grade” based on all of the aforementioned factors.
Of the 25 airports included in the report, New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) ranked worst, with low scores in every category and particularly dismal taxiing times. In fact, the average taxi-out time for the New York airport is 27.5 minutes. The average taxi-in time: 20.07 minutes.
Newark, New Jersey’s EWR came in second with the lowest percentage of on-time departures, followed by LaGuardia (LGA), also in New York.
The 10 airports most likely to delay your flight
- JFK in New York City (F)
- EWR in Newark, New Jersey (F)
- LGA in Queens, New York (D)
- ORD in Chicago (D)
- MIA in Miami (D)
- SFO in San Francisco (D)
- MCO in Orlando, Florida (D)
- BOS in Boston (D)
- PHL in Philadelphia (C-)
- IAH in Houston (C-)
“One big cause for delays (apart from extreme weather (5 percent) and the previous flight arriving late (39 percent)) could come down to the design of the airport,” noted Fergusson.
For example, New York-area airports such as JFK, EWR and LGA offer “limited access to only a few runways, and they are crammed into a small amount of land area.” Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, on the other hand, is “extremely well-designed,” according to the report.
The Atlanta airport, despite being the busiest in the world, performed quite well in Fergusson’s report, thanks to its low cancellation rate and customs line wait of only 12.27 minutes. ATL ranked sixth best and received a B- grade.
Here’s more on how ATL fared:
- Overall rank: Sixth best
- Grade: B-
- Percentage of on-time departures: 83.5 percent
- Percentage of canceled flights: 1.25 percent
- Average delay for departures in minutes: 58 minutes
- Average delay for arrivals in minutes: 60 minutes
- Average taxi-in times: 8.5 minutes
- Average taxi-out times: 17.2 minutes
- Average wait time in customs/security: 12.27 minutes
But that doesn’t mean traveling through Atlanta during holiday season is a breeze. According to AJC’s Kelly Yamanouchi, security checkpoints at the Atlanta airport Wednesday morning before 7 a.m. were already 15-30 minutes long. Airport and Transportation Security Administration officials expect more than 80,000 passengers will go through security checkpoints Wednesday.
Officials also have halted major ongoing construction during the Thanksgiving holiday season (Nov. 15 through Nov. 25) to ensure the majority of lanes will remain open.
But just to be safe, “airport officials recommend travelers plan to be inside the terminal at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights, allowing extra time to get through congestion at the curbside due to lane closures for an airport construction project, find parking or get special assistance,” Yamanouchi reported.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.