Where Not to Travel for the Holidays
Using a decade's worth of delay and cancellation data, a study finds Chicago-Midway, Chicago-O'Hare and Newark to be the three worst airports for holiday travel
October 31, 2019
This holiday season, if you plan to fly out of a Chicago airport, there’s a decent chance that your trip will be cut short due to delayed flights. This is according to CompareCards’ 2019 study on the Best and Worst Airports for Holiday Travel, which analyzed holiday flight delays and cancellations among the 50 busiest US airports to find out which airports have the worst track records when it comes to getting to your destination on time.
• The Best:
o Most On-Time Flights During Holiday Travel Season: Honolulu. Travelers leaving Honolulu can expect the most reliable air travel, with 86% of flights reaching their destinations on time. Kahului, Hawaii isn’t too far behind with 85% of flights reaching their destinations within 15 minutes of scheduled arrival times. Portlandcomes in third with 78.4% of flights arriving on time.
o Least Cancellations: Honolulu has the least flight cancellations, with .4% of flights facing cancellations. Kahului isn’t far behind with cancellations to only .5% of holiday flights, and Seattle comes in third with .7% of holiday flights cancelled.
o More than one in three flights originating at these airports were delayed: Chicago Midway, Chicago O’Hare, Newark, Denver and Houston Hobby.
• The Worst:
o Chicago: The study shows that Chicago-area airports are the most likely to have flights delayed during the holiday season. In fact, just 63% of flights out of Chicago’s Midway airport reached their destinations on time, the worst of any airport reviewed. At nearby O’Hare, it’s not much better, with only 65% of flights reaching their destinations within 15 minutes of scheduled arrival times. Just under 4% of flights are canceled there. Additionally, the worst day to fly out of Chicago is December 22.
o Newark Tops Out for Most Flight Cancellations: Not only does the New Jersey airport have the third-worst flight delay record on the list, with just over 65% of departing flights arriving on time, it also has the distinction of having the highest December holiday cancellation rates, with a 10-year average of 4%.
Portland and Seattle come in third and fourth place to be the most reliable for December travel, with both averaging 78 percent of on-time flight arrival. New York’s LaGuardia airport rounds of the top five best airports for holiday travel, with 77 percent of flights reaching their destinations on time.
• The flight delay hall of shame: More than one in three flights originating at these airports were delayed: Chicago Midway, Chicago O’Hare, Newark, Denver and Houston Hobby.
How to prepare for holiday flight delays:
• Choose nonstop if possible. You may pay more for a direct flight, but it could save you a headache, and maybe even money in the long run
• Know your rights. Airlines are required by the FAA to be upfront about what accommodations or refunds they offer passengers in the case of a flight delay or cancellation. If you’re not getting that information, ask for it.
• Book flights in advance. Booking early offers more options and a bigger variety of available flight times.
• Take an early flight. If you go with the first flight out, your plane will likely be there for you already, thus upping your odds of getting out on time, barring any weather-related issues.