The Worst Airports for Flight Delays in the United States and Around the World

Everyone hates flight delays. However, there’s some good news -- you can research the most delayed airports in the United States and around the world and try to avoid them as you plan your travels.

Every month, the U.S. Department of Transportation issues its Air Travel Consumer Reports, which provides a wealth of detail on how well – or poorly – airlines and airports serve the American public .

The reports are broken down into six segments:

  • On-time performance
  • Flight delays
  • Flight cancellations
  • Tarmac delays
  • Luggage issues
  • Consumer complaints

There’s fun to be had no matter where in the report you go, but for now, let’s focus on flight delays.

The report has a chart that tells you which major airports most often experience delays during December 2022.

Of course, since these are monthly numbers all it takes is one major snowstorm to send the numbers careening, or one quiet month to send the positive numbers soaring.

However, it’s reassuring looking at the September report, which covers July travel, because it confirms that these airports are about as delay-prone in July as they were in December.

U.S. Airports with the Most Delays

  1. Midway Airport, Chicago (47% delayed)
  2. Stapleton Airport, Denver (43%)
  3. Baltimore-Washington International (42%)
  4. Love Field, Dallas (42%)
  5. Seattle-Tacoma Airport (38%)
  6. Harry Reid International, Las Vegas (38%)
  7. Orlando International (37%)
  8. Fort Lauderdale Airport (37%)
  9. Newark Liberty International (35%)
  10. Nashville International Airport (32.9%)

The reports show on-time data for every airport in the country with commercial air service, so you can learn, for instance, that the Butte airport had 95% of its flights depart on time in December 2022, while Stockton, California, had only 43% of its flights depart on time.

Also read: What Airlines Owe You in Case of Flight Issues

Worst Airports for Flight Delays Around the World

While international data is harder to come by, CNN reported that these were the worst international airports for delays:

  1. Toronto Pearson International Airport (52% delayed)
  2. Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (48%)
  3. Frankfurt International Airport (45%)
  4. Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport (43%)
  5. London Gatwick Airport (42%)
  6. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (42%)
  7. Munich International Airport (40%)
  8. Manchester Airport (39%)
  9. Athens International Airport (39%)
  10. Vancouver International Airport (38%)

More like this: The Worst Airlines for Flight Delays Around the World

The cost of airport delays

Airport delays are more than a nuisance. They cost airlines and travelers big money.

The industry group Airlines For America estimates that delays cost American air carriers several billion dollars each year in additional expenses, lost productivity, wages, and goodwill.

In addition, delays increase pressure on airports, particularly through demand for gates, and that puts more stress on the ground personnel that have to service delayed flights.

Costs are even higher for air travelers. As AFA states, “Assuming $47 per hour as the average value of a passenger’s time … FAA/Nextor estimated the annual costs of delays (direct cost to airlines and passengers, lost demand, and indirect costs) in 2018 to be $28 billion.”

Furthermore, the stress on airport personnel is felt equally by travelers.

See how the price of travel protection compares

Lessons learned

What are some lessons learned from combing through airline delay data and studying the costs of delays? A few things:

Beware small northern airports in winter. Flying out of airports like Minot, North Dakota or Houghton, Michigan, in the middle of winter is asking for trouble. Snow and cold temperatures wreak havoc on flights.

Fly early in the day. Almost without fail, on-time performance deteriorates throughout the day at major airports. Arrive early and depart early, and you’re more likely to have on-time flights.

Keep your cool. Travel delays are stressful. The more you’re able to take a deep breath and calmly work through the implications of the delay and the things you might be able to do about it, the better off you’ll be.

Zig when the others zag. The pressure on popular holiday and summer destination airports like Orlando and Las Vegas can cause delays even when there are no mitigating weather issues. All it takes is one wayward flight to cause a domino effect of delays and cancellations. Plan accordingly.

Buy travel protection. Look for plans that have specific coverage for flight or travel delays, like the plans from Generali Travel Insurance.

How travel protection can help

If you’re experiencing a flight delay, travel protection can help in several ways:

Expenses while delayed

Travel delays can be costly, as travelers have to pay for unplanned purchases out of pocket. If you’re delayed during your trip, Travel Delay coverage can reimburse you for reasonable meals, telephone calls, additional parking charges, pet kennel fees, local transportation and even lodging during your delay.

Important Note: Travel Delay can only be used if your delay is for ten hours or more with the Standard Plan, eight hours or more with the Preferred Plan and six hours or more with the Premium Plan.

Also read: What Airlines Owe You in Case of Flight Delays and Cancellations

Delayed baggage and sporting equipment

If your delay causes you to not receive your baggage or sporting equipment promptly when you reach your destination, you might find yourself stranded without essential personal items or clothing that you need to enjoy your trip as planned. And travel insurance has coverages that can help.

Baggage Delay coverage may reimburse you for the reasonable cost of clothes and other personal items that you have to buy while your baggage is delayed.

Sporting Equipment Delay coverage may reimburse you for the cost of renting replacement equipment and/or locating your delayed Sporting Equipment and having it returned to you.

Important Notes: To qualify for coverage, baggage must be delayed for at least 24 hours with a Standard Plan, 18 hours with a Preferred Plan and 12 hours with a Premium Plan. Sporting Equipment must be delayed for at least 18 hours with the Preferred Plan, 12 hours with the Premium Plan, and coverage is not included with the Standard Plan.

Also read: Travel Insurance and Your Luggage

Trip Interruption

If your flight delay is so severe that it forces you to interrupt or even end your trip, Generali may reimburse you for any nonrefundable insured trip costs that you aren’t able to use, and expenses to get home or back on your trip with Trip Interruption coverage.

Important note:  The flight cancellation or delay must be due to mechanical breakdown, adverse weather or labor strikes that affect public transportation to qualify for coverage.

Learn more about Trip Interruption coverage

Travel Assistance

Every travel protection plan from Generali includes 24/7 Travel Assistance that can help you make alternative arrangements.

Travel delays are beyond annoying, but there are ways you can fight back – starting with having dependable travel protection from a company like Generali. Get the process started -- get a quote today.


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