What are the worst airports to fly to in winter?


As millions prepare to take off for the holidays, a look at airport delays and cancellations can give travelers a preview of 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 are taking steps to avoid long delays.

“Airlines have cut less popular/profitable routes to ensure they have enough staff to avoid flight delays and cancellations. Those flying among the most popular routes will see airfares that are 22% higher, and the average round trip will be $166,” AAA said in a news release.

Despite the airlines’ best intentions, a FOX Weather analysis of data provided by FlightAware identified which airports experienced the most problems from December to February.

Over the past six winter months, Newark Liberty International has had the highest percentage of delayed and canceled flights among major US airports. Based on scheduled flight schedules, an average of 29 percent of flights were either delayed or canceled.

A FOX Weather analysis of data provided by FlightAware shows the most problematic flights from December to February.
Andrew Wolfek

Newark’s operators, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, did not respond to a comment for the story, but looking at climatological data, northern parts of the state have averaged more than 20 inches of snow, plenty to play with. bustle with incoming and outgoing planes.

“New Jersey is close enough to the tracks of storms that pass through the northern Great Lakes region and down the St. Lawrence Valley to receive some of the precipitation from that source,” Garden State climatologists said.

Other airports with high combined cancellation and delay rates include Denver International, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Nine of the 10 airports that top FOX Weather’s list of most delays and cancellations experience winter precipitation that can typically delay or cancel airline travel.

Which airport usually has the most cancellations?

A winter storm affecting a major airport along the I-95 corridor could lead to thousands of cancellations.

Depending on the number of scheduled flights, airports may have a higher cancellation rate than a city with a higher number of canceled flights.

Not all delays or cancellations are equal, meaning that a city with a higher volume may actually have a lower rate if it hosts a large number of scheduled flights.

For example, during 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, making it higher on the list of most canceled flights.

A flyer was more likely to experience a cancellation in Boston than in the Windy City, according to FOX Weather’s analysis of available data.

Over the past two winters, the ranking of average cancellations put Boston in the lead for having the highest ranking of canceled flights, followed by Newark, O’Hare, LaGuardia and Denver.

Rank Airport Seasonal average flight cancellations
1 Boston Logan International Airport 1792
2 Newark Liberty International Airport 1758
3 O’Hare International Airport 4,052
4 La Guardia Airport 1565
5 Denver International Airport 1,969

Which cities have the worst delays?

The airport with the most cancellations is second on our list for the most delays.

Over the past six winter months, Newark has averaged more than 12,000 delays per winter season. Other airports in the top five include Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis and Orlando.

Again, the number of regular flights played a role in each airport’s ranking.

Orlando had more scheduled flights than Minneapolis, meaning the delay in the Twin Cities caused it to rank higher than the home of Mickey Mouse.

Rank Airport Average flight delays by 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 7775
5 Orlando International Airport 8,345

Still, Orlando is not known for winter storms, and the last snow event to affect the region was 45 years ago when an arctic front helped create a large snow trail.

So why is Orlando so high on the list of delays? Travel experts say Mother Nature’s effects on the aviation industry are subtle.

Florida airports rank high despite the lack of winter weather

Florida is known as the Sunshine State, with snow events considered rare and temperatures usually above freezing, but airports like Orlando and Miami outpace many southern cities in terms of delays and cancellations.

Travel experts believe that congestion in Florida’s skies has caused long-term problems for major airlines that have drawn the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration over the past few years.

“Florida is a work in progress. During the pandemic, airline service has increased not only to Florida airports, but also to private aviation — especially to airports like Palm Beach. So you have private jets competing for the same airspace as the airlines. No one is predicting a huge increase in private aviation during the pandemic – we’re still about 20% higher than in 2019,” said Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial airline pilot and current FlightAware spokeswoman.

Opening routes over the ocean could help reduce stress on the system, Bangs said, but could also cause other problems.

“One of the problems with opening up and using those routes is that a lot of airplanes can easily have life rafts, life jackets, etc. on board. doesn’t — and if you have to switch one plane for another because of a mechanical problem or a late arrival — then you might not have the equipment you need,” Bangs said.



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