When booking flights, I always try to factor in the potential for delays. As a Budget Traveler, I know that on-time means better value for my vacation buck. But to be honest, I seldom have the time or patience to pore over the available data. Thank you, Brian Karimzad, Director of MileCards.com, for analyzing Department of Transportation statistics about airports' on-time performance over the past decade and sharing his findings in the Best & Worst Summer Travel Delays report, released today.
Here, seven surprising takeaways that will help you have a better summer:
38 percent of the top 50 airports have more delays in summer than in winter. That's right. Regardless of whether they are in the north or the south, U.S. airports, including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Orlando, and all three D.C. area airpots, have more frequent summer delays.
The Northeast is most prone to summer delays. Five of the 10 worst airports for on-time summer arrivals are in the Northeast, with the three New York metro area airports (Kennedy, La Guardia, Newark - Liberty) coming in worst nationwide. Newark has a 64.5 percent on-time arrival rate since 2005.
June is the worst month for summer delays. A surprising 66 percent of the 50 busiest airports have more delays in June than in July or August.
Go west: Honolulu and Salt Lake City are the best overall for summer on-time performance. Honolulu has a pleasantly surprising 87.7 percent of summer flights on time. Salt Lake City is second overall, with 84.9 percent of flights on time. Even the third best is out west: Phoenix Sky Harbor's on-time rate is 81.5 percent.
Minneapolis and Chicago-Midway are top for on-time performance in the Midwest. Among Midwest airports, Delta's Minneapolis and Southwest's Chicago-Midway hubs are the least likely to experience delays. Midway's 78.7 percent on-time record beats Chicago O'Hare's (71.9 percent).
Know each major airline's most reliable summer hub. Denver is the leader among United hubs, with a 78.3 percent on-time arrival rate. Dallas-Fort Worth is the best among American Airlines hubs during the summer (76.5 percent). Salt Lake City, of course, is the most reliable among Delta hubs.
Beautiful San Francisco is delay-prone. The City by the Bay's famous fog plus parallel runways equals the fourth worst summer on-time rate (after the three NYC-area airports), with an on-time summer rate of 68.9 percent. If on-time performance is important for you, you might choose Oakland or San Jose, ranked number 5 and 7, respectively, for best summer on-time performance in the U.S., when visiting the Bay Area.