US Airline Delay Statistics – Analyzed by TravelFreak

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Flight delays are a seemingly never-ending concern within the airline trade. In 2023 up to now, almost 1 / 4 of US home flights arrived late or had been canceled.

In most industries such a excessive delay fee could be thought of unacceptable, however in air journey, delays are tolerated and even anticipated, though they trigger missed connections, misplaced baggage, and extra bills.

I compiled information from 1987-2023 from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics into an enormous spreadsheet to carry out an in-depth information evaluation of flight information. From right here, I extracted a collection of findings, together with:

  • Causes of airline delays
  • Most and least delayed airways, airports, and states
  • The affect of price range airways on flight delays
  • Airline delay efficiency over time

Key US Airline Delay Statistics

  • Most airline delays in 2022-2023 had been attributable to the airline, not unhealthy climate, closed runways, or air visitors controllers.
  • Over a 3rd of delayed flights are attributable to a sequence response of delays for an plane earlier in its journey.
  • Frontier is the most-delayed airline, with almost 35% of flights departing late in 2023.
  • Republic Airline had the fewest delays in 2023: solely 12% of Republic flights had been over quarter-hour late.
  • The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is the worst main airport for canceled or delayed flights. Over a 3rd of flights from FLL had been delayed or canceled in 2023.
  • The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSN) was the most effective main airport for delayed flights, with over 80% of flights leaving on time.
  • Small regional airports in Idaho and Montana have the most effective on-time efficiency within the nation.
  • Mississippi is the state with the bottom delay proportion, at simply 14%.
  • Delaware had an abysmal 55% of flights delayed in 2022, although no information is obtainable for 2023.

Airline Delay Causes

Airline Delay Causes
Photo credit score: Erik Odiin

Starting in 2003, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics started requiring main airways to report the rationale for delayed flights. Each delayed flight is assigned a code referring to one in all 5 delay causes.

Here are the definitions of the delay causes in accordance with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics:

  • CarrierDelay: The reason behind the cancellation or delay was resulting from circumstances inside the airline’s management (e.g. upkeep or crew issues, plane cleansing, baggage loading, fueling, and many others.).
  • WeatherDelay: Significant meteorological situations (precise or forecasted) that, within the judgment of the provider, delays or prevents the operation of a flight, akin to a twister, blizzard, or hurricane.
  • NASDelay: Delays and cancellations attributable to the nationwide aviation system that consult with a broad set of situations, akin to non-extreme climate situations, airport operations, heavy visitors quantity, and air visitors management.
  • LateAircraftDelay: A earlier flight with the identical plane arrived late, inflicting the current flight to depart late.
  • SecurityDelay: Delays or cancellations attributable to evacuation of a terminal or concourse, re-boarding of plane due to safety breach, inoperative screening gear, and/or lengthy strains in extra of 29 minutes at screening areas.

Additionally, for the reason that NAS class is sort of broad, it’s divided into extra particular causes:

  • Weather: Non-emergency weather-caused delays
  • Volume: Delays attributable to air visitors controllers as a result of quantity of flights
  • Equipment: Delays attributable to issues with gear
  • Closed Runway: Delays attributable to a runway closed resulting from development or visitors management causes
  • Other: All different delays associated to the NAS and air visitors management

For this report, I broke out every delay trigger by proportion. I mixed all emergency and non-emergency climate delays underneath one class for simplicity.

Note that the desk under solely consists of delays, not canceled or diverted flight operations.

Airline Delays by Cause
2022 2023
Delay Cause % of Delays Avg. Minutes % of Delays Avg. Minutes
Air Carrier Delay 37.4% 72 33.3% 76
Weather Delay (ALL) 15.5% 69 16.7% 72
Security Delay 0.3% 47 0.3% 48
Aircraft Arriving Late 34.4% 75 37.0% 79
NAS Volume 0.1% 36 0.1% 37
NAS Equipment Delay 0.2% 44 0.7% 86
NAS Closed Runway 0.7% 38 1.2% 41
NAS Other 0.0% 46 0.0% 41

Interestingly, in 2023 the commonest trigger for delayed flight departure was the plane arriving late. Essentially, arrival delays delayed the following flight.

Admittedly, this isn’t a really satisfying reply, as a result of it doesn’t instantly point out a root trigger.

What this exhibits, although, is the domino impact of flight delays. One late arrival delays the following flight departure, which ends up in one other delayed arrival, and so forth. Every single delay has damaging impacts down the road.

It is a good assumption then, that each flight that was delayed by an plane arriving late might be attributed to one of many different causes farther again within the plane’s itinerary.

Airlines prefer to cite climate situations or different points exterior their management because the causes of flight delays, however in actuality, the commonest root trigger is the airline itself. Accounting for 37.4% of flight delays in 2022 and 33.3% in 2023, air provider points trigger extra delays than all different root causes mixed (excluding late arrivals as a root trigger).

Unfortunately, there isn’t concrete information specifying what precisely airways did to trigger these delays, solely that the airline is accountable. Specific causes might embody staffing shortages, plane upkeep, or delays in boarding passengers.

The key takeaway is that almost all of delays—these attributable to air provider operations and by the domino impact of arrival delays—are preventable and are inside airways’ management.

Flight Delay Statistics by Airline

Flight Delay Statistics by Airline
Photo credit score: Forsaken Films

All US airways with greater than 0.5% of the market share are legally required to report on-time efficiency, delay instances, and delay causes for each flight.

The chart under exhibits the chances of flights which are on time, delayed, or canceled by every airline in 2022 and 2023.

Airlines Ranked by 2023 Delay Percentage
Airline % Delayed in 2022 % Delayed in 2023
Republic Airline 15.8% 11.9%
Endeavor Air 14.0% 14.1%
SkyWest Airlines 15.2% 14.9%
PSA Airlines 16.9% 14.9%
Envoy Air 15.2% 16.8%
Alaska Airlines 17.4% 18.9%
Delta Air Lines 16.4% 20.0%
United Airlines 19.6% 23.6%
American Airlines 21.1% 24.1%
Hawaiian Airlines 21.1% 25.1%
Allegiant Air 29.4% 25.5%
Southwest Airlines 27.9% 26.5%
Spirit Airlines 23.1% 31.1%
JetBlue Airways 31.3% 31.2%
Frontier Airlines 31.1% 34.9%

Across all home flights, 24.1% had been delayed or canceled in 2023 (with delayed being outlined as departing quarter-hour or extra after the scheduled time). The total common departure time was 14.43 minutes after the scheduled time.

Most On-Time Airline: Republic Airline

Republic Airline has the most effective flight-on-time efficiency of all main US carriers in 2023. With solely 11.9% of flights departing late, Republic Airline performs about 10% higher than the nationwide common. That is a notable enchancment from 2022, when Republic had 15.8% of flights delayed.

Republic Airline flights additionally depart 10 minutes sooner than common, solely 4.67 minutes after the scheduled time.

Interestingly, though it has the most effective on-time departure fee, Republic has the worst flight cancellation fee, with 3.32% of flights canceled in 2023.

Most Delayed Airline: Frontier Airlines

Frontier is the worst performer. A dismal 34.9% of Frontier home flights departed late in 2023. That means properly over a 3rd of Frontier flights both depart greater than quarter-hour late or are canceled. Frontier’s common flight departure time is 29.43 minutes after the scheduled time.

Flight Delays in Large vs Small Airlines

It is attention-grabbing that the highest 5 airways for on-time proportion in 2023 are all fairly small, with lower than 3% of the market share. All however SkyWest have lower than 1.5% of the market share.

The worst performers (Frontier, JetBlue, and Spirit) are additionally on the smaller finish, although bigger than the airways within the high on-time rankings.

The “Big Four” US airways (Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines) are throughout the center of the pack. Perhaps that’s solely logical although. Because giant air carriers function an enormous quantity of flights, resulting from ideas of scale, their efficiency is sure to even out nearer to the nationwide common.

On the opposite hand, smaller airways usually tend to be outliers just because they don’t have the identical quantity and variety of flights.

Of the Big Four, Delta Air Lines carried out finest with 78.6% of home flights operated by Delta departing on time. Delta additionally has one of many lowest charges for flight cancellations, simply 1.41%.

The fifth-largest airline within the nation by income, Alaska Airlines is the most important provider to have an on-time fee higher than 80% in 2023.

Budget Airlines and Delays

Perhaps unsurprisingly, price range airways carry out worse in terms of delayed flights. The backside 4 in 2023—Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Frontier Airlines—are all lower-cost carriers.

There are many explanations for why price range airways have extra delays. These embody staffing points, inadequate upkeep, and fewer environment friendly operations.

On the opposite hand, there may be proof that price range airways have an total optimistic affect on the punctuality of an airport.

A research by Ha V. Pham on the University of Virginia Department of Economics discovered that airports with the very best proportion of low-cost airline flights have shorter delay instances.

I’ll say that one other method. If an airport has extra flights from price range airways, the common delay time for all flights from that airport is decrease.

This could seem counterintuitive, however Pham’s analysis means that the quick-turnaround strategy of price range carriers frees up airport sources for different airways to make use of.

Airline Delay Statistics by Airport

Airline Delay Statistics by Airport
Photo credit score: Daniel Lim

Differences in airline delays between totally different airports also can present key insights. As it seems, there may be a good bigger distinction in on-time efficiency between airports than between airways.

Airports with the Most Flight Delays

The desk under lists the 5 US airports with the worst on-time arrival charges in 2023. This evaluation doesn’t take diverted flights under consideration, however the proportion of flights diverted is sufficiently small to be non-significant.

Airports with the Most Delays
Airport Code % On Time % Delayed % Canceled
Stockton, CA: Stockton Metro SCK 51.9 47.8 0.3
Aguadilla, PR: Rafael Hernandez BQN 56.0 41.1 2.9
Ashland, WV: Tri-State/Milton J. Ferguson Field HTS 61.7 37.5 0.8
Santa Maria, CA: Santa Maria Public SMX 63.9 36.1 0.0
Fort Lauderdale, FL: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International FLL 64.3 33.1 2.6

The first level to notice with the info above is that a lot of the airports with the worst on-time efficiency are smaller regional airports. As with airways, this is smart contemplating the smaller scale of those airports. 

With so few flights, small regional airports usually tend to be outliers. In reality, we’ll see that probably the most on-time airports are additionally smaller regional ones. A bigger airport, alternatively, merely has extra quantity to common out.

The exception right here is the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, which had 33.1% of its flights delayed and a couple of.6% canceled up to now in 2023. The indisputable fact that this main worldwide airport ranks with these smaller outliers is placing.

When we take a look at the worst delay percentages solely amongst main worldwide airports, we will see that Fort Lauderdale had a noticeably decrease on-time proportion. Other main airports with excessive delay charges embody Orlando, Denver, Baltimore, and Las Vegas.

Major Airports with the Most Delays
Airport Code % On Time % Delayed % Canceled
Fort Lauderdale, FL: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International FLL 64.3 33.1 2.6
Orlando, FL: Orlando International MCO 67.3 31.1 1.7
Denver, CO: Denver International DEN 67.4 30.6 2.1
Baltimore, MD: Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall BWI 68.2 30.6 1.2
Las Vegas, NV: Harry Reid International LAS 68.4 30.2 1.4

Airports with the Fewest Flight Delays

When airports with the fewest delays, small regional airports once more present up because the outliers, with delay charges as little as 2.8%. I’ve included tables under each for absolutely the highest on-time proportion in addition to main airports with the very best on-time proportion.

Airports with the Fewest Delays
Airport Code % On Time % Delayed % Canceled
Pocatello, ID: Pocatello Regional PIH 97.2 2.8 0.0
Twin Falls, ID: Joslin Field TWF 95.9 3.2 0.9
Butte, MT: Bert Mooney BTM 93.9 4.1 2.0
Elko, NV: Elko Regional EKO 93.0 6.6 0.5
West Yellowstone, MT: Yellowstone WYS 92.8 6.5 0.7
Major Airports with the Fewest Delays
Airport Code % On Time % Delayed % Canceled
Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis-St Paul International MSP 80.9 17.3 1.8
Seattle, WA: Seattle/Tacoma International SEA 80.8 18.3 0.8
Washington, DC: Ronald Reagan Washington National DCA 80.5 17.6 1.9
Salt Lake City, UT: Salt Lake City International SLC 79.8 19.1 1.1
Detroit, MI: Detroit Metro Wayne County DTW 79.4 19.0 1.6

Interestingly, 4 out of 5 of probably the most on-time airports within the nation are small regional airports in Idaho and Montana. The most on-time main airports, alternatively, aren’t concentrated in anyone area.

The Pocatello Regional Airport has the most effective on-time efficiency within the nation, with simply 2.8% of flights delayed in 2023. It additionally has a formidable cancellation report, with no flight cancellations in any respect in 2023 up to now.

Considering solely bigger airports, the outcomes are far much less dramatic. The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport had the most effective on-time efficiency of any main airport in 2023. 17.3% of flights had been delayed, and 1.8% had been canceled.

That’s solely a 5-point distinction from the nationwide common of twenty-two.4% of flights delayed. Minneapolis had extra canceled flights on common: the nationwide common is 1.7%.

These outcomes point out that smaller airports have way more capability to dramatically enhance efficiency than worldwide airports with bigger flight volumes.

That is smart contemplating that airways trigger way more delays than airport operations. Smaller airports sometimes have a small variety of totally different airways working flights. Larger airports sometimes have many extra airways working, which implies poor airline efficiency will overpower efforts made by the airport towards punctuality to a big extent.

Airline Delay Statistics by State/Territory

Airline Delay Statistics by  State
Photo credit score: Rocker Sta

Major variations in on-time efficiency can be seen between totally different states. The desk under exhibits the proportion of flights delayed in every US state or territory in 2022 and 2023.

2023 Rank State/Territory Delays in 2022 Delays in 2023
1 Mississippi 16.6% 14.0%
2 Idaho 14.6% 15.4%
3 Alaska 18.5% 15.8%
4 Oregon 16.2% 16.3%
5 Kansas 18.0% 16.8%
6 Oklahoma 17.8% 17.6%
7 Montana 17.5% 17.9%
8 North Dakota 23.4% 18.0%
9 Wisconsin 17.9% 18.0%
10 Vermont 21.0% 18.1%
11 Indiana 20.2% 18.6%
12 Arkansas 19.3% 18.6%
13 Minnesota 18.6% 18.7%
14 Washington 18.8% 18.8%
15 South Dakota 20.8% 19.0%
16 Iowa 17.5% 19.1%
17 Nebraska 19.8% 19.2%
18 Kentucky 19.9% 19.3%
19 South Carolina 20.8% 19.3%
20 Alabama 20.6% 19.5%
21 Utah 16.5% 19.7%
22 Ohio 21.2% 19.7%
23 Virginia 23.0% 20.2%
24 Pennsylvania 19.9% 20.2%
25 Michigan 18.9% 20.4%
26 Maine 24.1% 20.4%
27 Rhode Island 23.2% 20.9%
28 New Mexico 20.2% 21.0%
29 West Virginia 24.0% 21.7%
30 California 20.3% 22.0%
31 Hawaii 20.6% 22.0%
32 Wyoming 20.2% 22.1%
33 New Hampshire 23.3% 22.1%
34 Connecticut 22.9% 22.3%
35 Tennessee 23.1% 22.4%
36 Arizona 23.3% 22.6%
37 Louisiana 23.1% 23.2%
38 Missouri 24.2% 23.4%
39 North Carolina 21.7% 23.5%
40 U.S. Virgin Islands 22.6% 24.1%
41 New York 26.6% 24.2%
42 Georgia 20.9% 25.0%
43 Illinois 25.8% 25.2%
44 Massachusetts 24.4% 25.5%
45 Texas 24.7% 25.7%
46 Florida 28.2% 29.1%
47 New Jersey 30.9% 29.8%
48 Nevada 28.2% 30.6%
49 Puerto Rico 27.7% 31.4%
50 Colorado 29.9% 31.4%
51 Maryland 36.6% 32.4%
52 Delaware 55.3% No Data

Mississippi, Idaho, Alaska, Oregon, and Kansas all carried out constantly properly in 2022 and 2023 for on-time flights. The high states for on-time flights are largely states with much less air visitors quantity and decrease populations total.

Unsurprisingly, lots of the states that rank worst for delays even have a serious airport that is likely one of the most delayed within the nation. For instance: The Baltimore, MD; Denver, CO; and Las Vegas, NV airports are all among the many most delayed main airports. Consequently, Maryland, Colorado, and Nevada rank as among the most delayed states.

Delaware solely has one comparatively small regional airport (the Wilmington Airport), however delays in Delaware are far worse than in some other state, with over 55% of flights being delayed in 2022.

Sources and Methodology

All information for this report come from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) Reporting Carrier On-Time Performance Database, which incorporates information from 1987 as much as the current. This database consists of information organized by origin and vacation spot airport, date, and airline. The reported information consists of scheduled and precise departure and arrival instances, canceled and diverted flights, taxi-out and taxi-in instances, causes of delay and cancellation, air time, and continuous distance.

I accessed this information utilizing the BTS on-line information tables on October 18, 2023.

Data Categories and Variables

For this report I queried the BTS information tables based mostly on the next classes for filtering and sorting:

  • Reporting_Airline: a singular provider code indicating every airline
  • OriginAirportID: an identification quantity assigned by US DOT to establish a singular airport—for the origin
  • DestAirportID: an identification quantity assigned by US DOT to establish a singular airport—for the vacation spot
  • OriginState: the title and state code of the origin state or US territory

Within every filtering class, I accessed the next variables for evaluation.

  • PctDepOntime: a proportion of exits leaving inside quarter-hour of the scheduled time
  • DepDelay15: an indicator of delayed departure the place over quarter-hour late is taken into account delayed—1 for delayed and 0 for not delayed
  • DepDelayMinutes: distinction in minutes between scheduled and precise departure time—early departures set to 0
  • Flights: variety of flights inside a class
  • Canceled: variety of canceled flights inside a class
  • Cancellation Code: a quantity indicating the reason for delay

Analysis

After I pulled the info from the BTS tables, I carried out all evaluation, group, and calculations to find out the ultimate outcomes.

The following values had been calculated based mostly on the accessible information in every class:

  • Percentage of flights that had been delayed
  • Percentage of flights that had been canceled
  • Combined proportion of utmost climate delays and NAS climate delays
  • Individual total proportion of delays from particular person NAS causes

For delay causes, I mixed “extreme weather delays” and NAS-related climate delays underneath one class to present an correct illustration of all weather-related delays.

I organized and sorted the calculated outcomes to search out probably the most and least delayed airways, airports, and states. Since the outlying outcomes for airports had been small regional airports, I additionally filtered to search out probably the most and least delayed main worldwide airports.

Final Airline Delay Findings

It’s clear that delayed flights are an issue that isn’t going away quickly. Nearly 1 / 4 of flights within the US depart not less than quarter-hour late, and there isn’t proof of that fee reducing.

While it’s straightforward to assert that flight delays are brought about primarily by climate or air visitors, the reality is that airways themselves bear the brunt of the duty for delays. Some airways do carry out higher than others, and price range airways are probably the most usually delayed.

Peer reviewed by Dr. Marcus Green, Ph.D. on November twenty second, 2023.

Airline Delay Statistics FAQs

What proportion of flights get delayed?

24.56% of flights had been delayed in 2023 (up by way of July)

What is the largest reason behind flight delays?

The greatest root reason behind delayed flights is an issue inside the airline’s operation.

What is the common delay time for flights?

The common delay time for flights in 2023 was 71.4 minutes.

Which airline has the worst flight delays?

Frontier is the airline with probably the most delays and the longest delays on common.

Which airline has probably the most cancellations?

Republic Airline has the very best flight cancellation fee, with 3.31% of flights canceled in 2023.

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