Ensure Smooth Travels by Avoiding the Most-Delayed Airports

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Crowded airport concourse at O'Hare (Photo: iStockPhoto.com/Terraxplorer)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on November 3, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, airport, flight delay, Sarah Pascarella, weather.

Heading to the airport this holiday season? Chances are you'll have a connecting flight. If so, you can plan for a smoother trip by avoiding connecting airports that are known for delays.

Let's say you're traveling from San Diego, an airport with a great on-time track record, to Orlando, for a holiday theme-park vacation. You type in both cities on your travel supplier of choice and get a list of results. The three cheapest flights all offer connections—your choices being Newark, Baltimore, or Chicago O'Hare. Direct flights are also available, but cost a bit more.

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Luckily, Forbes Traveler has done a lot of the legwork in determining the most on-time and most time-draining airports. They've compiled extensive lists, taking weather, arrivals and departures, security, and passenger loads into account. The results aren't too surprising: West Coast cities with sunny skies come up tops in the most on-time list; high-population, wintry East Coast cities have dismal records.

The Most On-Time Airports

1. Honolulu International Airport
2. Kahului Airport
3. Portland International Airport (Oregon)
4. Salt Lake City International Airport
5. Albuquerque International Sunport

The Least-Efficient Airports

1. Chicago O'Hare International Airport
2. Newark Liberty International Airport
3. New York—JFK International Airport
4. New York—LaGuardia International Airport
5. Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport

Browse Forbes' data on the most on-time and time-draining airports to get more details. You can also find a slew of airport information on the Bureau of Transportation Statistics website, including flight delays at a glance, causes of delays, and frequently delayed flights.

But back to our scenario: For our San Diego-to-Orlando traveler, he should book the flight connecting through Baltimore, given the statistics regarding delays and on-time performance between the three airports. Or, for an even better success rate, he could shell out the extra for the direct flight.

With a little legwork, you can conduct a similar comparison for your upcoming trip, make an informed decision, and head to the airport with confidence.

Are there airports you prefer over all others? Those you avoid at all costs? Share your strategies by submitting a comment below!

 
 
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