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What U.S. airports saw the most disrupted flights in 2018?

It may not be possible to anticipate or prevent a flight delay, but for anyone interested in being an informed traveler, there are write-ups like this one from SmarterTravel, which summarizes an AirHelp report on the U.S. airports that saw the most flight disruptions in 2018. The number of “flight disruptions,” which includes both flight delays and cancellations, has never been higher than it was last year per AirHelp. These 10 U.S. airports contributed more than the rest:

  1. Chicago O’Hare: 115,900 disrupted flights last year
  2. Dallas/Fort Worth: 75,600 disrupted flights
  3. Atlanta: 75,400 disrupted flights
  4. Charlotte: 61,700 disrupted flights
  5. Newark: 61,300 disrupted flights
  6. Los Angeles: 60,700 disrupted flights
  7. Denver: 59,100 disrupted flights
  8. San Francisco: 51,500 disrupted flights
  9. New York’s JFK: 50,800 disrupted flights
  10. Boston: 50,100 disrupted flights

It’s important take these numbers in context, as at Chicago O’Hare (ORD), where SmarterTravel notes that “construction probably made things worse last year, but Chicago’s lousy winter weather reliably boosts delays each year.”

Additionally, not all U.S. airports serve the same number of total flights (in 2018, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson was the busiest airport in the world for the 21st year in a row). The percentage of total flights that are disrupted may therefore be more telling than the total, as travel blogger Asher Ferguson wrote last year in a great post grading U.S. airports on their overall performance. Accounting for delays, cancellations, custom wait times, and more, Asher gave these 10 U.S. airports the worst grades:

  1. JFK (New York City): F
  2. EWR (New York City/Newark): F
  3. LGA (New York City): D
  4. ORD (Chicago): D
  5. MIA (Miami): D
  6. SFO (San Francisco): D
  7. MCO (Orlando): D
  8. BOS (Boston): D
  9. PHL (Philadelphia): C-
  10. IAH (Houston): C-

Read Asher’s full post to see how he arrived at the grades above. And if you’ve had consistently good or bad experiences with a U.S. airport, please share in the comments below!

Related: What to Do: Weather Delays and Flight Cancellations



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2 Comments On "What U.S. Airports Saw the Most Disrupted Flights in 2018?"
  1. Bruce Cohen|

    The worst airports, in general, seem to be the hub airports. The reality of your post mimics my reality of travel, post airline mergers in the last ten-fifteen years. My perception is that “things” got worse when STL, PIT, MEM/CVG, and CLE went off line as hubs in the last decade. The hubs are overloaded, and just like car traffic, a small increase in traffic or a weather change can make a normal commute into a “nightmare” commute. This all happened as a result of the merger/acquisition of TWA into AA, NWA into Delta, and the merger of Continental into Untied. This pushed more traffic into ORD, ATL and the entire Eastern Seaboard, with both IAH and DFW taking some of the brunt. These smaller hub airports did a great job as serving as East-West or North-South connecting hubs for smaller cities, as well as global gateways that also served the major airlines. When considering the East coast as a whole, when the weather is fine the airports work well. With the first raindrop everything slows down, and even with an isolated summer storm over New York, havoc begins up and down the East coast (from BOS to CLT and sometimes to ATL, before pouring over to ORD). I always wondered by airports such as EWR “allow” private planes, which take as much runway space as a fully loaded 777 from overseas. I would think moving small traffic to the smaller airports (or charge them the same landing fee as a 777) would solve some of the problem.

  2. Gareth|

    ATL is the busiest airport in the world and yet it is one of the least likely to cause a delay in the US according to Asher Fergusson’s study. That is seriously impressive and I agree with the analysis that a lot may come down to airport design. Interesting AF!

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