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How To

Avoid Delays

Nothing puts a damper on your summer getaway quite like spending the first chunk of it waiting for your flight to leave. But your fate isn’t entirely out of your hands.

How Bad Are Chicago’s Airports? (Bad!)

Of the 29 major U.S. airports, O’Hare and Midway are the absolute worst when it comes to delays. If you are traveling west—to Salt Lake City or Portland, specifically—at least take some solace in the fact that you stand a decent chance of getting back on time.

The Five Worst Airports for Delays

Percentage of departures leaving at least 15 minutes late

MDW |Midway
31.4%
ORD | O’Hare
28.0%
BWI | Baltimore-Washington
27.3%
DEN | Denver
26.2%
LAS | McCarren (Las Vegas)
24.4%

The Five Best

SLC | Salt Lake City
12.8%
PDX | Portland
14.6%
DCA | Washington-Reagan
15.1%
SEA | Seattle
15.2%
MSP | Minneapolis-St. Paul
16.2%
SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics (2014 figures)

Not-So-Fun-Fact

6,182,787

That’s how many minutes Flights out of Chicago were delayed in 2014. That equates to nearly 12 years!

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Don’t Take These Flights!

Unless, that is, you really want to screw up your vacation. In both June and July of last year, these two flights between Chicago and New York were delayed by more than 30 minutes more than half the time—a truly horrendous track record.

United 692

O’Hare to LaGuardia
Departs: 6 p.m.
Percentage of flights delayed at least 30 minutes: 59
Average length of those delays: 103 minutes

United 693

LaGuardia to O’Hare
Departs: 7 p.m.
Percentage of flights delayed at least 30 minutes: 59
Average length of those delays: 126 minutes

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics (June and July 2014 figures)

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How the Airlines Stack Up

If getting out on time is your goal (instead of, say, racking up miles), consider US Airways out of O’Hare and Delta out of Midway. Here’s how the major airlines rank in terms of delays, from best to worst.

  O’Hare flights delayed
  Midway flights delayed
  flights canceled

NOTES: Figures are for domestic flights from March 2014 through February 2015, the latest available data. Any flight that leaves 15 minutes late or more is considered delayed. Only airlines with revenue of more than 1 percent of the total scheduled-service domestic passenger revenue for all airlines are required to report delay rates. Rankings exclude regional carriers. Frontier started operating out of O’Hare in September 2014. SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
 

When to Fly (and When Not To)

Fly in the morning and you’re more likely to take off promptly. The domino effect of delays often translates into backed-up evening schedules.

NOTE: Figures are for domestic flights from March 2014 through February 2015, the latest available data. SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

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