Travel

The Most on Time and Least on Time Airlines by Airport

Do you hate airport delays? Here's a breakdown of the most on time and least on time airlines by airport.

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.


Highlights

  • 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

AirportCityAirlineAverage departure delay
ATLAtlantaAlaska Airlines5 minutes
AUSAustinAlaska Airlines3 minutes
BNANashvilleAmerican Airlines10 minutes
BOSBostonAlaska Airlines7 minutes
BWIBaltimoreSpirit Airlines10 minutes
CLEClevelandSouthwest Airlines7 minutes
CLTCharlotteDelta Air Lines10 minutes
CMHColumbusSpirit Air Lines2 minutes
CVGCincinnatiSouthwest Airlines6 minutes
DALDallasDelta Air Lines10 minutes
DCAD.C.Alaska Airlines7 minutes
DENDenverAlaska Airlines5 minutes
DFWDallas/Ft.WorthAlaska Airlines2 minutes
DTWDetroitAlaska Airlines2 minutes
EWRNewarkAllegiant Air5 minutes
FLLFt. LauderdaleAmerican Airlines8 minutes
HNLHonoluluHawaiian Airlines1 minute
HOUHoustonDelta Air Lines5 minutes
IADD.C.Virgin America2 minutes
IAHHoustonFrontier Airlines5 minutes
INDIndianapolisAlaska Airlines2 minutes
JFKNew York CityAlaska Airlines7 minutes
LASLas VegasAlaska Airlines4 minutes
LAXLos AngelesUnited Air Lines6 minutes
LGANew York CityAlaska Airlines9 minutes
MCIKansas CityAlaska Airlines5 minutes
MCOOrlandoAlaska Airlines7 minutes
MDWChicagoDelta Air Lines8 minutes
MIAMiamiAmerican Airlines11 minutes
MSPMinneapolisAlaska Airlines1 minute
MSYNew OrleansAmerican Airlines6 minutes
OAKOaklandAlaska Airlines1 minute
OGGMauiAmerican Airlines0 minutes
ORDChicagoAlaska Airlines10 minutes
PDXPortlandAlaska Airlines2 minutes
PHLPhiladelphiaAlaska Airlines5 minutes
PHXPhoenixAlaska Airlines1 minute
PITPittsburghAlaska Airlines3 minutes
RDURaleighVirgin America3 minutes
RSWFort MyersDelta Air Lines6 minutes
SANSan DiegoAlaska Airlines4 minutes
SATSan AntonioAlaska Airlines2 minutes
SEASeattleAlaska Airlines5 minutes
SFOSan FranciscoAlaska Airlines10 minutes
SJCSan JoseAlaska Airlines2 minutes
SLCSalt Lake CityAlaska Airlines2 minutes
SMFSacramentoAlaska Airlines0 minutes
SNASanta AnaAlaska Airlines2 minutes
STLSt. LouisAlaska Airlines-1 minute
TPATampaAlaska Airlines6 minutes
A negative average departure delay denotes an average early departure. A zero-minute delay denotes an on-time average departure.

Least On-Time Airlines by Airport

AirportCityAirlineAverage departure delay
ATLAtlantaJetBlue Airways20 minutes
AUSAustinFrontier Airlines23 minutes
BNANashvilleVirgin America24 minutes
BOSBostonSpirit Air Lines16 minutes
BWIBaltimoreVirgin America23 minutes
CLEClevelandAllegiant Air18 minutes
CLTCharlotteJetBlue Airways22 minutes
CMHColumbusFrontier Airlines21 minutes
CVGCincinnatiFrontier Airlines14 minutes
DALDallasSouthwest Airlines14 minutes
DCAD.C.Virgin America17 minutes
DENDenverJetBlue Airways21 minutes
DFWDallasJetBlue Airways27 minutes
DTWDetroitFrontier Airlines21 minutes
EWRNewarkJetBlue Airways24 minutes
FLLFt. LauderdaleFrontier Airlines29 minutes
HNLHonoluluVirgin America26 minutes
HOUHoustonJetBlue Airways26 minutes
IADD.C.Frontier Airlines21 minutes
IAHHoustonDelta Air Lines13 minutes
INDIndianapolisAllegiant Air17 minutes
JFKNew York CityJetBlue Airways13 minutes
LASLas VegasFrontier Airlines19 minutes
LAXLos AngelesFrontier Airlines14 minutes
LGANew York CityFrontier Airlines19 minutes
MCIKansas CityAllegiant Air13 minutes
MCOOrlandoJetBlue Airways21 minutes
MDWChicagoSouthwest Airlines16 minutes
MIAMiamiUnited Air Lines16 minutes
MSPMinneapolisFrontier Airlines17 minutes
MSYNew OrleansVirgin America25 minutes
OAKOaklandAllegiant Air18 minutes
OGGMauiVirgin America14 minutes
ORDChicagoJetBlue Airways32 minutes
PDXPortlandHawaiian Airlines18 minutes
PHLPhiladelphiaFrontier Airlines22 minutes
PHXPhoenixJetBlue Airways20 minute
PITPittsburghFrontier Airlines20 minutes
RDURaleighAllegiant Air22 minutes
RSWFort MyersJetBlue Airways23 minutes
SANSan DiegoFrontier Airlines21 minutes
SATSan AntonioAllegiant Air27 minutes
SEASeattleFrontier Airlines22 minutes
SFOSan FranciscoFrontier Airlines30 minutes
SJCSan JoseFrontier Airlines24 minutes
SLCSalt Lake CityJetBlue Airways17 minutes
SMFSacramentoFrontier Airlines22 minutes
SNASanta AnaFrontier Airlines13 minutes
STLSt. LouisFrontier Airlines18 minutes
TPATampaFrontier Airlines24 minutes
A negative average departure delay denotes an average early departure. A zero-minute delay denotes an on-time average departure.

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.

RankJFKLGAEWR
1Alaska AirlinesAlaska AirlinesAllegiant Air
7 min9 min5 min
2Virgin AmericaAmerican AirlinesAlaska Airlines
9 min10 min11 min
3American AirlinesUnited Air LinesAmerican Airlines
9 min13 min12 min
4Hawaiian AirlinesSpirit Air LinesSpirit Air Lines
10 min14 min12 min
5Delta Air LinesDelta Air LinesVirgin America
12 min14 min13 min
6JetBlue AirwaysJetBlue AirwaysUnited Air Lines
13 min17 min17 min
7Southwest AirlinesSouthwest Airlines
18 min19 min
8Frontier AirlinesDelta Air Lines
19 min21 min
9JetBlue Airways
24 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.

average departure delays at New York 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.

LAX Airline Departure Delays

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.

ORD Airline Departure Delays

Average Departure Delays at Chicago's MDW

average departure delays at Chicago's Midway Airport
average departure delays at Chicago's Midway Airport

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.

ATL Airline Departure Delays

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.

DFW Airline Departure Delays

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.

DEN Airline Departure Delays

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.

SFO Airline Departure Delays

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.

Methodology

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.

Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

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