Avoid These Flights, Avoid These Airlines – Worst Delays Winners

Do you know what the “most delayed” airlines and the specific “most delayed” flights are? You will if you keep reading.

This is where the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS.gov) and its monthly roundup of airline figures comes in.

Here’s the latest, and note that most of these statistics pertain to May 2010:

Chronically Delayed Flights

These are flights that are late 30 minutes or more, and more than 50% of the time for two consecutive months.

Now, look carefully – you may be able to discern a pattern here:

  • April – American Eagle flight 3621, Miami to Norfolk, VA, late 60 % of the time
  • May – American Eagle flight 3621, Miami to Norfolk, VA, late 51%+ of the time


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Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays

To be fair, we checked the Denver weather reports for the day that four of these flights were delayed for so long, and discovered the Denver area and airport were experiencing tornados, hail and horrendous winds.

Okay, but why did the planes – originating in other cities – apparently sit on the tarmac without letting folks out? That’s what the statistics suggest, and according to the new Dept. of Transportation 3-hour rule, I suspect there could be huge fines ahead for these airlines.

By the way, these “longest tarmac delays” flights were all in May:

  • United flight 714, San Francisco to Denver 5-26: delayed on tarmac 4 hours, 40 minutes
  • United flight 406, Billings to Denver 5-26: delayed on tarmac 3 hours, 39 minutes
  • United flight 876, Seattle to Denver 5-26: delayed on tarmac 3 hours, 31 minutes
  • United flight 342, San Diego to Denver 5-26: delayed on tarmac 3 hours, 10 minutes
  • Delta flight 2011, Atlanta to Dallas-Ft. Worth 5-28: delayed on tarmac 3 hours, 2 minutes

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

The following are the airlines that had the overall lowest on-time arrival rates in May. For perspective, note the overall on-time rate for all airlines in May was 79.9% (down from April’s 85.3%).

  1. Comair – 67.1%
  2. American Eagle – 73.1%
  3. Delta – 75.6%


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Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

Finally, some good news. By the way, notice how Hawaiian Airlines is number one? They always are, but then again, Oahu rarely has to worry about 3 feet of snow.

Great job, Alaska and US Airways – keep it up.

  1. Hawaiian – 94.3%
  2. Alaska – 91.5%
  3. US Airways – 85.3%

Bottom Line on Getting the Best (and Cheapest) Flights Possible

Some delays cannot be avoided, because of weather or mechanical problems; but you may be able to improve your odds of on-time flights by finding the cheapest possible flights on airlines of your choosing, at the time of day you want to fly.


Updated: November 16, 2015