As millions prepare to fly for the holidays, a look at airport delays and cancellations can give travelers a preview of whether they’ll need to pack their patience 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 fares 22% higher, averaging $166 round trip,” AAA said in a press release.
Despite the airlines’ good intentions, a FOX Weather analysis of data provided by FlightAware found which airports tend to be home to the most problems from December to February.
Over the past six winter months, Newark Liberty International has been ranked first for having the highest percentage of delayed and canceled flights among the largest U.S. airports. Based on scheduled flight plans, an average of 29 percent of aircraft experienced delays or cancellations.
Newark’s operators, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, did not respond to comment for the story, but a look at climate data shows northern parts of the state average more than 20 inches of snow, enough to play. Havoc with planes arriving and departing.
“Northern New Jersey is close enough to storm tracks that cross the Great Lakes and down the St. Lawrence Valley to receive a portion of the precipitation from this source,” said Garden State climatologists.
Other airports with high rates of cancellations and delays combined include Denver International, Chicago’s O’Hare International, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Nine out of the 10 airports that topped FOX Weather’s list for having the most delays and cancellations usually experience some form of winter precipitation, which can slow or halt airline travel.
Which airport usually has the most cancellations?
A winter storm affecting a major airport hub along the I-95 corridor could lead to thousands of cancellations.
Depending on the number of flights scheduled, airports can have a higher cancellation rate than any city with more canceled planes.
Not every delay or cancellation is equal, which means that a city with a higher amount may end up with a lower rate if it is home to a large number of scheduled flights.
For example, during the winter of 2019-2020, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago had more than 108,000 scheduled flights compared to just over 48,000 at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Boston had a larger share of canceled flights than Chicago, which placed it higher on the cancellation list.
According to FOX Weather’s analysis of available data, a traveler was more likely to experience a cancellation in Boston than in the Windy City.
Over the past two winters, the average rating for cancellations has put Boston in front for the highest rating for canceled flights, followed by Newark, O’Hare, LaGuardia and Denver.
|Rank||an 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||4052|
|5||Denver International Airport||1969|
Which cities have the worst delays?
The airport that ranked second on our list for having the most cancellations topped the list for having the most delays.
Over the past six winter months, Newark has averaged more than 12,000 late winters. Other airports that fall into the top five are 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 means delays in the Twin Cities have resulted in it ranking higher than Mickey Mouse’s home.
|Rank||an airport||Average delayed flights per season|
|1||Newark Liberty International Airport||12,213|
|2||O’Hare International Airport||18,910|
|3||Denver International Airport||16,148|
|4||Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport||7775|
|5||Orlando International Airport||8345|
However, Orlando is not known for its winter storms, and the last snow event to affect the region was over 45 years ago when an Arctic front helped produce a massive trail of snow.
So why is Orlando number one on the list of delays? Travel experts say there is more than meets the eye then the effects of Mother Nature on the airline industry.
Florida’s airports rank highly despite the lack of winter weather
Florida is known as the Sunshine State, with snow events considered rare and temperatures typically remaining above freezing, but airports like Orlando and Miami are ahead of many other southern cities in terms of delays and cancellations.
Travel experts believe the stalemate in Florida’s skies has caused long-term problems for major airlines over the past few years that have drawn the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Florida is a work in progress. Not only has airline service increased during the pandemic to Florida airports, but so has private aviation — especially to airports like Palm Beach. So you have private jets competing for the same airspace as the airlines. Nobody expects the skyrocket In private flying during a pandemic – we’re still about 20% higher than it was in 2019, said Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial airline pilot and current spokesperson for FlightAware.
Bangs said opening routes across the ocean could help take pressure off the system but could also lead to other problems.
“One of the problems with opening and using these routes is that many aircraft do not have life rafts, life jackets, etc. readily available on board – and if you have to switch one plane for another due to a mechanical problem or a late arrival – you may not have that required equipment on board. board the plane,” Bangs said.
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