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Fly at the Right Time to Avoid Delays

Earlier today, I looked at how airlines fared in this month's Air Travel Consumer Report, published by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This afternoon, I'd like to take a look at how U.S. airports performed over the last 12 months, according to departure and on-time arrival stats.

Looking at the hourly fluctuations in on-time departure and arrival percentages at major airports around the country suggests that flight scheduled departure and arrival times may be a good predictor of delays.

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For example, departures from Newark between 6 and 6:59 a.m. had an on-time rate of 93 percent, while departures between 10 and 10:59 p.m. had only a 64 percent chance of leaving on time. At Chicago O'Hare, the best time to depart was late at night.

On the arrival end, at San Francisco International, 95 percent were on time between 7 and 7:59 a.m., but only 48 percent of arrivals were on time between 10 and 10:59 a.m. At Atlanta Hartsfield, arriving between 11 and 11:59 a.m. offered a nearly 90 percent chance of an on-time arrival, but waiting until 7 to 7:59 p.m. dropped that chance to 62 percent. Check out the full chart, with dozens of other airports, on pages 10 through 13 of the report.

Among the airports covered, Denver and Portland, Oregon, had the best overall on-time arrivals, and San Francisco had the worst. Portland also had the highest percentage of on-time departures, while Miami had the lowest.

Have you had a great on-time experience lately, or arrived late on a particular route? Tell us about it!

Read comments or add your own insight!
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