America's 10 Worst Airports

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Air - Plane Waiting at Terminal in Bad Weather (Photo: thinkstock/iStockphoto)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on November 7, 2011. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, airport, Christine Sarkis.

Individual airlines take a lot of the heat when it comes to flight delays, but the airports you fly into, out of, and connect through also have a significant impact on the likelihood you'll get to your destination on time.

Travel + Leisure profiled the most recent best and worst airports for flight delays in a photo gallery. Of note is that even at Seattle's Sea-Tac Airport, this year's best airport for on-time performance, 13.1 percent of flights were delayed. Still, that's better than the worst airport for delays, Chicago Midway, which weighed in with nearly 30 percent of its flights delayed.

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The gallery also helpfully outlines the best and worst times of day to fly out of each airport. The theme that emerges reinforces the rule of thumb that flying early is better. Really early in some cases—at Chicago O'Hare, the best time to fly on time is before 7 a.m.

In a number of cases, cities have airports on both the worst and the best list. For instance, Washington, D.C.'s BWI airport is the second worst airport for delays in the country, but Dulles International and Reagan International were both in the top five best for on-time performance.

For full details, check out the story, but here's a snapshot of the airports that made the best and worst lists for flight delays.

Ten Worst Airports for Delays

1. Chicago Midway Airport
2. Baltimore/Washington International Airport
3. San Francisco International Airport
4. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport
5. John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City
6. Newark Liberty International Airport
7. Chicago O'Hare
8. Miami International Airport
9. Denver International Airport
10. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Ten Best Airports for Delays

1. Sea-Tac Airport, Seattle
2. Portland International Airport
3. Reagan National Airport, Washington, D.C.
4. Salt Lake City International Airport
5. Dulles international Airport, Washington, D.C.
6. Tampa International Airport
7. George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston
8. LaGuardia Airport, New York City
9. Charlotte Douglas International Airport
10. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

If your home airport—or an airport you fly out of regularly—is on the worst list, you might identify with the sentiment of frequent flyer quoted in the article:

"'If I came home via a connecting flight thorough Anchorage,' says the Dallas area native, 'and had to rent a husky team and race the Iditarod to get to my connecting flight, and when I got there they taped me up in a box and sent me to DFW via FedEx—that would all be better than having to go through Miami Airport.'"

Have you had a long wait at one of the most delay-prone airports?

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