Which Airports to Fly for Best On-time Arrivals and Departures

When it comes to airline and airport on-time performance, first a little context: Weather happens.

Causes of Delays

When bad weather shows up, all bets are off as airline schedules are thrown in disarray. Same for mechanical problems like Southwest’s “hard landing” at LaGuardia in July when one of its plane’s front wheels collapsed, shutting down the airport for hours.

What to Do When Your Flight is Delayed

LaGuardia was never going to make a best on-time performance list, though – too much snow in winter, too much traffic all year round. But let’s see which airports did do well – and not so well – this summer and during the first half of the year.

Best and Worst On-time Airports

Actually some of these airport rankings cover the first seven months of the year from January through July, along with July-only ratings. Airports include only the 29 busiest in the U.S.

Arrivals: July only

  • Best on-time airport: Salt Lake City
  • Worst on-time airport: San Francisco

Arrivals: January to July

  • Best on-time airport: Phoenix
  • Worst on-time airport: Newark

Departures: July only

  • Best airport: Salt Lake City
  • Worst airport: San Francisco

Departures: January to July

  • Best airport: Portland OR
  • Worst airport: Chicago O’Hare

To paraphrase Horace Greeley*, the moral here seems to be “Go West, you travelers” but maybe not quite as far as San Francisco if it’s timeliness you’re after.

*Or maybe he didn’t say “Go West, young man” – reports vary.


Published: September 12, 2013