Picture this: You're sitting at the airport, anxiously awaiting the arrival of your plane to head off to your much-deserved vacation. Then, the airline attendant announces the much-dreaded flight delay. Whether the delay is 30 minutes long or a few hours, there's no denying it's a frustrating experience altogether. Analyzing 2018 flight data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, we examined which airlines were most on-time and least on-time to their gates and broke down these rankings by airport.
- Alaska Airlines is the most on-time airline at New York City's JFK and LGA with average departure delays of just seven and nine minutes, respectively.
- Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines each depart about 14 minutes late, on average, at Los Angeles' LAX.
- Travelers flying out of Chicago's ORD should expect departure delays from 10 to 32 minutes.
- Despite being based out of Atlanta, Delta Air Lines is the second most on-time airline at ATL airport (next to Alaska Airlines).
Most On-Time Airlines by Airport
|Airport||City||Airline||Average departure delay|
|ATL||Atlanta||Alaska Airlines||5 minutes|
|AUS||Austin||Alaska Airlines||3 minutes|
|BNA||Nashville||American Airlines||10 minutes|
|BOS||Boston||Alaska Airlines||7 minutes|
|BWI||Baltimore||Spirit Airlines||10 minutes|
|CLE||Cleveland||Southwest Airlines||7 minutes|
|CLT||Charlotte||Delta Air Lines||10 minutes|
|CMH||Columbus||Spirit Air Lines||2 minutes|
|CVG||Cincinnati||Southwest Airlines||6 minutes|
|DAL||Dallas||Delta Air Lines||10 minutes|
|DCA||D.C.||Alaska Airlines||7 minutes|
|DEN||Denver||Alaska Airlines||5 minutes|
|DFW||Dallas/Ft.Worth||Alaska Airlines||2 minutes|
|DTW||Detroit||Alaska Airlines||2 minutes|
|EWR||Newark||Allegiant Air||5 minutes|
|FLL||Ft. Lauderdale||American Airlines||8 minutes|
|HNL||Honolulu||Hawaiian Airlines||1 minute|
|HOU||Houston||Delta Air Lines||5 minutes|
|IAD||D.C.||Virgin America||2 minutes|
|IAH||Houston||Frontier Airlines||5 minutes|
|IND||Indianapolis||Alaska Airlines||2 minutes|
|JFK||New York City||Alaska Airlines||7 minutes|
|LAS||Las Vegas||Alaska Airlines||4 minutes|
|LAX||Los Angeles||United Air Lines||6 minutes|
|LGA||New York City||Alaska Airlines||9 minutes|
|MCI||Kansas City||Alaska Airlines||5 minutes|
|MCO||Orlando||Alaska Airlines||7 minutes|
|MDW||Chicago||Delta Air Lines||8 minutes|
|MIA||Miami||American Airlines||11 minutes|
|MSP||Minneapolis||Alaska Airlines||1 minute|
|MSY||New Orleans||American Airlines||6 minutes|
|OAK||Oakland||Alaska Airlines||1 minute|
|OGG||Maui||American Airlines||0 minutes|
|ORD||Chicago||Alaska Airlines||10 minutes|
|PDX||Portland||Alaska Airlines||2 minutes|
|PHL||Philadelphia||Alaska Airlines||5 minutes|
|PHX||Phoenix||Alaska Airlines||1 minute|
|PIT||Pittsburgh||Alaska Airlines||3 minutes|
|RDU||Raleigh||Virgin America||3 minutes|
|RSW||Fort Myers||Delta Air Lines||6 minutes|
|SAN||San Diego||Alaska Airlines||4 minutes|
|SAT||San Antonio||Alaska Airlines||2 minutes|
|SEA||Seattle||Alaska Airlines||5 minutes|
|SFO||San Francisco||Alaska Airlines||10 minutes|
|SJC||San Jose||Alaska Airlines||2 minutes|
|SLC||Salt Lake City||Alaska Airlines||2 minutes|
|SMF||Sacramento||Alaska Airlines||0 minutes|
|SNA||Santa Ana||Alaska Airlines||2 minutes|
|STL||St. Louis||Alaska Airlines||-1 minute|
|TPA||Tampa||Alaska Airlines||6 minutes|
Least On-Time Airlines by Airport
|Airport||City||Airline||Average departure delay|
|ATL||Atlanta||JetBlue Airways||20 minutes|
|AUS||Austin||Frontier Airlines||23 minutes|
|BNA||Nashville||Virgin America||24 minutes|
|BOS||Boston||Spirit Air Lines||16 minutes|
|BWI||Baltimore||Virgin America||23 minutes|
|CLE||Cleveland||Allegiant Air||18 minutes|
|CLT||Charlotte||JetBlue Airways||22 minutes|
|CMH||Columbus||Frontier Airlines||21 minutes|
|CVG||Cincinnati||Frontier Airlines||14 minutes|
|DAL||Dallas||Southwest Airlines||14 minutes|
|DCA||D.C.||Virgin America||17 minutes|
|DEN||Denver||JetBlue Airways||21 minutes|
|DFW||Dallas||JetBlue Airways||27 minutes|
|DTW||Detroit||Frontier Airlines||21 minutes|
|EWR||Newark||JetBlue Airways||24 minutes|
|FLL||Ft. Lauderdale||Frontier Airlines||29 minutes|
|HNL||Honolulu||Virgin America||26 minutes|
|HOU||Houston||JetBlue Airways||26 minutes|
|IAD||D.C.||Frontier Airlines||21 minutes|
|IAH||Houston||Delta Air Lines||13 minutes|
|IND||Indianapolis||Allegiant Air||17 minutes|
|JFK||New York City||JetBlue Airways||13 minutes|
|LAS||Las Vegas||Frontier Airlines||19 minutes|
|LAX||Los Angeles||Frontier Airlines||14 minutes|
|LGA||New York City||Frontier Airlines||19 minutes|
|MCI||Kansas City||Allegiant Air||13 minutes|
|MCO||Orlando||JetBlue Airways||21 minutes|
|MDW||Chicago||Southwest Airlines||16 minutes|
|MIA||Miami||United Air Lines||16 minutes|
|MSP||Minneapolis||Frontier Airlines||17 minutes|
|MSY||New Orleans||Virgin America||25 minutes|
|OAK||Oakland||Allegiant Air||18 minutes|
|OGG||Maui||Virgin America||14 minutes|
|ORD||Chicago||JetBlue Airways||32 minutes|
|PDX||Portland||Hawaiian Airlines||18 minutes|
|PHL||Philadelphia||Frontier Airlines||22 minutes|
|PHX||Phoenix||JetBlue Airways||20 minute|
|PIT||Pittsburgh||Frontier Airlines||20 minutes|
|RDU||Raleigh||Allegiant Air||22 minutes|
|RSW||Fort Myers||JetBlue Airways||23 minutes|
|SAN||San Diego||Frontier Airlines||21 minutes|
|SAT||San Antonio||Allegiant Air||27 minutes|
|SEA||Seattle||Frontier Airlines||22 minutes|
|SFO||San Francisco||Frontier Airlines||30 minutes|
|SJC||San Jose||Frontier Airlines||24 minutes|
|SLC||Salt Lake City||JetBlue Airways||17 minutes|
|SMF||Sacramento||Frontier Airlines||22 minutes|
|SNA||Santa Ana||Frontier Airlines||13 minutes|
|STL||St. Louis||Frontier Airlines||18 minutes|
|TPA||Tampa||Frontier Airlines||24 minutes|
New York City (JFK, LGA, EWR): Fly Alaska Airlines and Avoid JetBlue Airways
New Yorkers have plenty of airports to choose from, but as it turns out, airline performance doesn't vary much among the city's airports. For example, Alaska Airlines is the most on-time airline at JFK and LGA while the second-most on-time airline at EWR. JetBlue Airways finished as the most-delayed airline at JFK and EWR and third-most delayed at LGA. You can find the average departure delay time by airline across the three major New York City airports below.
|1||Alaska Airlines||Alaska Airlines||Allegiant Air|
|7 min||9 min||5 min|
|2||Virgin America||American Airlines||Alaska Airlines|
|9 min||10 min||11 min|
|3||American Airlines||United Air Lines||American Airlines|
|9 min||13 min||12 min|
|4||Hawaiian Airlines||Spirit Air Lines||Spirit Air Lines|
|10 min||14 min||12 min|
|5||Delta Air Lines||Delta Air Lines||Virgin America|
|12 min||14 min||13 min|
|6||JetBlue Airways||JetBlue Airways||United Air Lines|
|13 min||17 min||17 min|
|7||Southwest Airlines||Southwest Airlines|
|18 min||19 min|
|8||Frontier Airlines||Delta Air Lines|
|19 min||21 min|
JetBlue Airways Average Departure Delay by Airport
If you're flying out of New York City with JetBlue Airways, there's a good chance your flight will be delayed by more than 10 minutes. The average departure delay time for JetBlue Airways flights out of EWR is 24 minutes. JetBlue performs a little better at LGA and JFK, but it's still among the worst-performing airlines at those airports.
Los Angeles (LAX): Relatively Short Departure Delays
Compared to other large airports, LAX's departure delays are relatively short. United Air Lines is the most on-time airline at LAX, with an average delay of only six minutes. The least on-time airlines at LAX are Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which are each delayed by 14 minutes on average.
Chicago (ORD): 10- to 32-Minute Average Departure Delays at ORD
Passengers flying out of Chicago's ORD should expect long departure delays ranging from 10 to 32 minutes. The most on-time airline at ORD is Alaska Airlines with an average departure delay of 10 minutes, which is still on the higher end of the scale compared to other airports.
Average Departure Delays at Chicago's MDW
Atlanta's ATL: Delta Air Lines Is Second-Most On-Time Airline at ATL
Alaska Airlines is the most on-time airline at ATL, with an average departure delay of only five minutes. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines tie for second-most on-time airline with an average delay of nine minutes. Interestingly, Delta Air Lines is based out of Atlanta, and ATL serves as a major hub.
Other Notable Airports
Alaska Airlines is the most on-time airline at Dallas' DFW by a large nine-minute margin. JetBlue Airways is the least on-time airline with an average of 27 minutes. All other airlines at DFW are delayed by 11 to 16 minutes.
Alaska Airlines is also the most on-time airline at Denver's DEN, with an average departure delay of just five minutes. JetBlue Airways and Allegiant Air are each delayed by 21 minutes on average, which is four times greater than Alaska Airlines' delay.
All airlines are fairly competitive when it comes to leaving on time from San Francisco's SFO. The only outlier is Frontier Airlines, which has an average departure delay of 30 minutes. That's three times greater than the most on-time airline, Alaska Airlines, which is typically delayed by 10 minutes.
Tips for Dealing With Airport Delays
The good news is that as long as you remain flexible, you should be able to get to your destination. Using these tips can help get you there faster or with less hassle.
- Call the airline immediately. As soon as the flight attendant announces a delay, most people rush the front desk. Use this to your advantage and call the airline directly from your cellphone. Not only will it be faster most of the time, but the entire ordeal will likely be calmer since the phone agent doesn't have to deal with other irate passengers in line.
- Take advantage of airport lounges. If you'll have to stick around the airport for a few hours before your rescheduled flight, then take advantage of airport lounges. Many credit cards, especially co-branded airline cards, offer complimentary lounge access. You may already have one of these cards in your wallet. If not, you can always shell out the $40 to $100 to enjoy drinks, food and shower suites while you wait for your flight to arrive.
- Check your wallet. Some premium travel rewards credit cards offer trip delay insurance on flights you book using the card. The benefit typically covers things like hotel nights, clothing and certain expenses like toiletries. Since most credit cards offer varying coverage, we recommend contacting your own credit card company with any questions about your coverage.
- Get your money back. Even if you purchased a nonrefundable ticket, you can usually get your money back if your flight was seriously delayed. Airlines will typically offer to rebook at a later time, but if it doesn't work for your plans, then don't feel like you have to accept.
We used the last 12 months' worth of data available from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, measuring from May 2018 to May 2019. To calculate the average departure delay, we took an average of each airline's reported departure delays over that same time period. Airlines were then ranked from lowest average departure delay to highest by airport. Please note that Virgin America has since been acquired by Alaska Airlines.