Believe It Or Not, These 10 Airports Have Delays Worse Than Atlanta

We’ve been there before: Luggage through security, tickets in hand, and stranded at the airport waiting out a flight delay. If you’ve never had to deal with a flight delay, then you must be living a charmed life. Because if you haven’t already wasted time, a delay makes traveling almost unbearable.

Atlanta has the busiest airport in the United States. In 2016, 100 million passengers passed through its gates. So when a blackout grounded more than 1,100 flights, thousands of travelers were left stranded. Atlanta might be the busiest airport in America, but it’s not the worst for delays. These 10 airports are even worse, including one that might surprise you. 

It shouldn’t be surprising to see some of America’s most hated airports also appear here. After all, who doesn’t hate being late? As it happens, if you’re sitting through a delay at these locations you might be at one of the ugliest airports in the United States. We’ll give you Atlanta’s numbers first, then count down the 10 cities with much worse airport delays.


Atlanta International Airport

Atlanta is surprisingly on-time typically. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Airport name: Hartsfield-Jackson
  • On-time flights: 87%

Atlanta is the busiest airport in the United States, but it knows how to deal with the traffic. Atlanta is No. 1 for on-time flights among the busiest airports in the country. As we are about to see, other cities wish they could live up to Atlanta’s efficiency.

Next: One area of the country shares a similar rate of delays.

10. Portland (TIE)

Portland International Airport

It’s not the worst, but it’s not great. | joshuaraineyphotography/iStock/Getty Images

  • Airport name: Portland International
  • On-time flights: 78%

Through the first six months of 2017, just 78% of Portland’s 8.3 million passengers took off on time, according to a CNBC report. It’s far from the worst in the country, but it’s also nowhere near the best. If you’re dealing with a Portland flight delay, at least you can enjoy some fine tequilas while you wait.

Next: Let’s stay in the neighborhood.

9. Seattle (TIE)

Airplane at Seattle Tacoma aiport

Over 4 million passengers were delayed. | David_Johnson/iStock/Getty Images

  • Airport name: Seattle-Tacoma International
  • On-time flights: 78%

There must be something about the Pacific Northwest. Like Portland, its neighbor to the south, 22% of Sea-Tac flights are delayed. With 20.1 million passengers through the first half of 2017, that means 4.4 million were late either departing or arriving. While waiting at the airport is a drag, at least Seattle has some really good food.

Next: The numbers in New England don’t get any better.

8. Boston (TIE)

Logan International Airport, Boston

The airport is close to downtown. | PatrickPoendl/iStock/Getty Images

  • Airport name: Logan International
  • On-time flights: 76%

Boston’s Logan International is across the harbor from downtown, so it’s a quick jaunt from the heart of the city. Getting to the airport is easy, but actually leaving or departing is the issue. Per the CNBC report, nearly one-quarter of its 391,222 flights are late.

Next: Where being on time is a roll of the dice.

7. Las Vegas (TIE)

McCarran Las Vegas Airport

People may be too busy gambling to get the flights moving. | littleny/iStock/Getty Images

  • Airport name: McCarran International
  • On-time flights: 76%

You’re supposed to gamble with your money in Las Vegas, not your time. But if you’re flying into McCarran, the main airport in town, your odds of being on time aren’t great. A mere 76% of flights stick to the schedule, per the CNBC report. If you want to keep pressing your luck while waiting for a departing flight, the numerous slot machines can help.

Next: Pleasant weather most of the time, but delays remain at our next airport.

6. San Diego

San Diego Airport plane landing

Weather plays into their delays. | sartriano/iStock/Getty Images

  • Airport name: San Diego International
  • On-time flights: 75%

San Diego is known for its nearly-perfect weather year-round. So how is its airport one of the worst for on-time flight? Well, San Diego’s temperatures hardly fluctuate, but it’s susceptible to storms, fog, and wildfires that wreak havoc. The spells of bad weather contribute to one-quarter of flights being delayed.

Next: One market, two cities, three airports, and numerous delays.

5. New York City

New York JFK airport

More than a quarter of flights are delayed. | tupungato/iStock/Getty Images

  • Airport name: John F. Kennedy International
  • On-time flights: 74%

As an older city with an aging infrastructure, a lack of space, and a huge population, there’s not much New York can do to solve its airport woes. Kennedy is one of several airports serving the metropolitan area. More than one-quarter of its flights don’t stick to the schedule, but as we will soon see, that’s a good number for New York.

Next: It keeps getting worse for New York.

4. New York City

LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia is even worst than JFK. | robertcicchetti/iStock/Getty Images

  • Airport name: LaGuardia Airport
  • On-time flights: 69%

Now we’re really getting to the airports with major delays. LaGuardia shares a borough with JFK (Queens), but it’s even worse for delays. LaGuardia has handled more than 360,000 flights every year since 2010, but 31% fail to take off or land on time. That adds up to over 111,000 flights with delays. Plus, you won’t experience the crown jewel of U.S. airports while you wait, as one Yelp reviewer points out. Certainly not great, but it’s even worse at another area airport.

Next: The major airport near New York bringing up the rear.

3. Newark

Newark Airport

Newark is basically a nightmare. | Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

  • Airport name: Liberty International
  • On-time flights: 68%

The second-busiest airport serving New York City (behind JFK), Newark is the area’s worst for having an on-time track record. Nearly one-third of flights to and from Newark are late. Based on the 435,907 flights it handled in 2016, that adds up to 139,490 delays. Are you traveling during the holidays? Newark is even more of a nightmare.

Next: If we can depart New York on time, we’ll head west to finish our list.

2. Los Angeles

LAX airport in Los Angeles

Just under a third of flights are delayed. | jupiterimages/iStock/Getty Images

  • Airport name: Los Angeles International
  • On-time flights: 65%

More people than ever are traveling through LAX. From January through October of 2017, over 70 million people walked through its gates, a more than 4% increase from the same period in 2016. Yet more than one third are delayed, as the CNBC report reveals just 65% efficiency. Your wait at LAX is slightly more bearable if you can work your way into one of its luxurious passenger lounges.

Next: The airport with the most delays might surprise you.

1. San Francisco

United Airlines Boeing 787 at San Francisco International Airport

Over 15 million passengers wer delayed. |

  • Airport name: San Francisco International
  • On-time flights: 64%

Through the first nine months of 2017, San Francisco’s airport handled 341,929 flights and more than 41 million passengers. But with just 63.8% of flights being on-time, it means that over 15.1 million passengers suffered delays. As the website Milecards puts it, San Francisco is a pocket of misery. While San Francisco has mild, rain-free summers, coastal fog and parallel runways conspire to create delays.”

If there’s a plus side to being stranded in San Francisco, it’s that there are some fun amenities waiting for you there.

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