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The 10 Worst Airports for Summer Travel, Ranked

Wondering which airports are most likely to put you behind schedule during the busy summer travel season? If you’re flying to the Boston, Chicago, New York, or San Francisco areas this summer—or even worse, connecting to another flight there—be especially wary.

As measured by a 10-year average, magnifymoney found that the six worst large U.S. airports for summer on-time arrival rates are some of the most popular air hubs. Here are the top 10 airports where you might be right to worry about timeliness for summer travel, and the average percent of the summer flights that are on time there.

10 Worst Airports for Summer Travel

  • Newark: 67 percent on time
  • LaGuardia: 68 percent on time
  • San Francisco: 69.2 percent on time
  • JFK: 70.5 percent on time
  • Boston: 72.5 percent on time
  • Chicago (O’Hare): 73.3 percent on time
  • Miami: 74.4 percent on time
  • Washington, D.C. (Reagan): 74.4 percent on time
  • Raleigh Durham: 74.6 percent on time
  • Philadelphia: 74.6 percent on time

The study used arrival data from the Department of Transportation for the 50 busiest U.S. airports over the last 10 years to find the worst summer travel hubs. It might surprise you that magnifymoney also found summer to be worse than winter for travel delays, and that June is the worst month for summer airport delays overall. The delays seem to be getting worse, with on-time rates dropping—but there are some good alternatives that come to mind for most of those worst airports for summer travel.

Alternative Airports for Summer Travel

Fortunately, you can find reasonably convenient alternatives for many of the following cities.

  • San Francisco: Nearby Oakland has less fog and good connections. While transit connections aren’t as good, San Jose also has less fog and is attractive for travelers heading to/from Silicon Valley.
  • Boston: Several lines fly to/from Manchester (New Hampshire) and Providence (Rhode Island). Neither airport has seamless access to downtown, but both are OK for renting a car and heading for the suburbs.
  • Chicago: Southwest provides a robust schedule to Chicago Midway Airport, and other lines operate a few flights there, as well. The transit connection to downtown is at least as good as the connection at O’Hare, and taxi/Uber fares to the city center are lower than those at O’Hare. Milwaukee is a good alternative for Chicago’s far-north suburbs.

If you have to connect on the West Coast, Phoenix, Portland, and Seattle are the better hub choices, scoring 80 percent or over. In the Midwest, Detroit and Minneapolis also scored just over 80.

Unfortunately, no East Coast hub scores 80 percent or over; the top major connecting hub there is Charlotte, at 79 percent on time.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

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