America’s Worst Airport

Air travel delays have reached extraordinary levels lately, though this wasn’t always the case in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic grounded the entire industry, prompting federal aid to keep carriers afloat. Thousands of airline workers lost jobs as planes were mothballed for months. Now, as travel rebounds, understaffed and overstretched airlines struggle to keep up, causing cascading disruptions.

Carriers were suddenly allowed to operate again due to vaccination and the decline of infections. The industry was unprepared and had to quickly add tens of thousands of workers and put planes back in service. Air travel returned to pre-pandemic levels, and passenger levels surpassed even those during holidays. The turnaround turned chaotic.

Recently, huge storms have caused thousands of flights to be canceled, and from time to time, this happened during holidays—the delays for some flights extended to an hour or more.

People’s aversion to certain airports often stems from prolonged wait times at security checkpoints and a higher frequency of flight delays. These factors combined can result in wait times exceeding an hour, from the initiation of the security process to the departure of their flights.

PlanetWare looked at these metrics. It used iFly data to register the average security wait time for more than 200 airports. In addition, it used Bureau of Transportation Statistics data to determine on-time, delayed, canceled, and total flights at more than 300 U.S. airports since 2014. Nationwide, the average wait time across the U.S. was approximately 10 minutes.
On average, of all flights, 81.0% were on time since 2014.

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Daniel K Inouye International in Honolulu had the worst wait time at an average of 20.5 minutes. In a period when flight delays are a regular part of air travel, even that time seems short. Next on the list was one of the world’s largest airports. The average wait time was 19.5 minutes, followed by Chicago’s other airport–Midway–at 18.4 minutes.

Some airports have very low waiting times. At the top of this list is the Baltimore Thurgood Marshall Airport at 5.1 minutes, and the Detroit Wayne County Airport at 7.1 minutes. (These are the world’s best airlines, according to passengers.)

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