As millions prepare to fly for the holidays, a look at an airport’s delays and cancellations can give travelers insight into whether they’ll need to be patient during the winter months. .
AAA expects winter travel to be very close to pre-pandemic levels and warns that airlines have taken steps to avoid long delays.
“Airlines cut less popular/profitable routes to have enough staff to avoid flight delays and cancellations. Those flying between the most popular routes will see 22% more expensive airfares averaging $166 round trip,” AAA said in a press release.
Despite airlines’ best intentions, a FOX Weather analysis of data provided by FlightAware revealed which airports tend to be the most problematic from December through February.
Over the past six winter months, Newark Liberty International has taken the top spot for having the highest percentage of delayed and canceled flights among the largest US airports. Based on planned flight plans, an average of 29% of aircraft were delayed or canceled.
Operators of Newark, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, did not respond to the story’s comments, but a look at climate data shows that northern parts of the state have on average more 20 inches of snow, which is plenty to play with. havoc with arriving and departing planes.
“Northern New Jersey is close enough to the tracks of storms crossing the Great Lakes region and down the St. Lawrence Valley to receive some of its precipitation from this source,” Garden State climatologists said.
Other airports with high rates of combined cancellations and delays include Denver International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, and New York John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Nine out of 10 airports that top FOX Weather’s list for having the most delays and cancellations typically experience some form of winter precipitation, which can slow or interrupt air travel.
Which airport usually has the most cancellations?
A winter storm affecting a major airport hub along the I-95 corridor can result in thousands of cancellations.
Depending on the number of scheduled flights, airports may have a higher cancellation rate than a city with a higher amount of canceled planes.
Not all delays or cancellations are equal, meaning a city with a higher quantity might actually have a lower fare if it hosts a large number of scheduled flights.
For example, in the winter of 2019-’20, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had more than 108,000 scheduled flights, compared to just over 48,000 at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Boston had a higher share of canceled flights than Chicago, earning it a higher spot on the list of top cancellations.
According to FOX Weather’s analysis of available data, a flyer was more likely to encounter cancellation in Boston than in Windy City.
Over the past two winters, a ranking of average cancellations put Boston in the lead for having the highest score for canceled flights, followed by Newark, O’Hare, LaGuardia and Denver.
|Rank||Airport||Average canceled flights per season|
|1||Boston Logan International Airport||1,792|
|2||Newark Liberty International Airport||1,758|
|3||O’Hare International Airport||4,052|
|5||Denver International Airport||1,969|
Which cities have the worst delays?
The airport that came second on our list for having the most cancellations is at the top of the list for having the most delays.
Over the past six winter months, Newark has averaged more than 12,000 delays per winter season. Other airports that round out the top five include Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis and Orlando.
Again, the number of scheduled flights played a role in each airport’s ranking.
Orlando handled more scheduled flights than Minneapolis, which meant a delay in the Twin Cities caused it to rank higher than the home of Mickey Mouse.
|Rank||Airport||Average flight delays per season|
|1||Newark Liberty International Airport||12,213|
|2||O’Hare International Airport||18,910|
|3||Denver International Airport||16,148|
|4||Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport||7,775|
|5||Orlando International Airport||8,345|
Still, Orlando isn’t known for its winter storms, and the last snow event to hit the region was more than 45 years ago, when an Arctic front helped produce a huge patch of snow.
So why did Orlando rank high on the list of delays? Travel experts say there’s more than meets the eye than Mother Nature’s impacts on the aviation industry.
Florida airports rank well despite lack of winter conditions
Florida is known as the Sunshine State, with snowfalls considered rare and temperatures that generally stay above freezing, but airports like Orlando and Miami rank ahead of many other southern cities for delays and cancellations.
Travel experts say the traffic jam in Florida skies has caused lingering problems for major airlines in recent years that have caught the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Florida is a work in progress. Not only has air service increased during the pandemic to Florida airports, but also private aviation – especially to airports like Palm Beach. So you then have private planes competing for the same airspace as the airlines. No one predicted the huge increase in private aviation during the pandemic – we’re still around 20% higher than 2019,” said Kathleen Bangs, former commercial airline pilot and current FlightAware spokesperson.
Bangs said opening up routes over the ocean could help alleviate stress on the system, but can also lead to other problems.
“One of the problems with opening up and using these routes is that so many planes don’t have the life rafts, life jackets, etc. readily on board – and if you have to swap one plane against another due to a mechanical problem or a late arrival – then you may not have the required equipment on board,” Bangs said.
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