The Five Most Delayed Airlines in America

If you like getting to your destination on time, be wary of these five airlines as they are the most delayed airlines in America.

Hopper Editors - Oct. 26, 2017

If you’ve ever been left twiddling your thumbs in a dingy departure lounge, or sat idle on the runway in taxi as the pilot mumbles off technical problems that you don’t understand, then you’ve come face-to-face with one of the flying traveler’s most common foes: the dreaded airline delay. For business fliers they can mean a missed meeting, for holidaymakers less hours in the sun, while for travelers on a connecting flight they can spell an all-out disaster.

Today the United States Department of Transportation logs all airport delays, no matter the length or nature, providing detailed stats for each big airline come years end. Here’s a lowdown of what those figures revealed about the five most sluggish carriers on the continent, between May 2013 and May 2014. Keep in mind that 23.3% is national average for delays.

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5. American Airlines is delayed 22.48% of the time

Photo by Stevie Spiers (Photography)/Flickr.

Soon to become the branded name of the world’s largest airline, American would do well to buck up its game when it comes to flight delays, especially when the majority of their off time flights are caused by connecting aircraft arriving late at the airport. That said, with a huge fleet size of more than 600 crafts flying right across the globe, American can almost be forgiven its reported 6% of delays due to the national aviation system, and even it’s 0.92% of delays due to severe weather conditions.

4. AirTran is delayed 22.54% of the time

Photo by Pieter v Marion/Flickr.

Hovering tenuously just below the average airline delay rate, budget flyer AirTran comes in with an uneasy 22.54% of late flights. Again, off time connecting aircraft seem to be the real culprits here, with these reportedly causing more than a third of the carrier’s overall delays. That said, there also seems to be a significant amount of bad luck involved, with AirTran racking up more than 7% of delays from forces entirely outside of their control.

3. JetBlue is delayed 26.44% of the time

Photo by Aero Icarus/Flickr.

For many travelers this year, New York’s own JetBlue Airways will be a ticket to destinations across North America and the Caribbean, but with a delay rate of 26.44% — more than 3% above the national average — how many will be reaching their destination on time? What really remains to be seen is if the budget carrier can drive down the massive 7% of delays directly related to its management, and if they can optimize turnarounds and improve their scheduling to reduce the huge amount of knock-on lateness caused by tardy airport arrivals.

2. Frontier is delayed 26.92% of the time

Photo by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon/Flickr.

Just under half of Frontier Airlines’ soaring 26.92% late rate has been attributed to the various and multifarious delays of the national aviation system, meaning that while a considerable portion of flights on the carrier’s 78 routes last year landed off time, only 14% of those delays are directly relatable to the airline itself. While that leaves passengers in 2014 with a glimmer of hope for arriving on time for their holiday in Montego Bay, Dominica or Mexico, Frontier still has a glaring number of knock-on delays to answer for.

1. Southwest is delayed 27.24% of the time

Photo by Thomás Del Coro/Flickr

While the folks at Southwest, with their fleet of pretty red and blue Boeings and enticing low fares, keep reporting rising quarterly profits and possible expansion to Mexican and Caribbean destinations, their punctuality apparently leaves much to be desired. From May 2013 to May 2014 they posted the highest percentage of delayed flights in America, soaring more than 4% above the national average at 27.24%! What’s more, there’s little room for making excuses, because the national aviation system landed only 4.1% of the blame, leaving delayed arrivals and carrier management to pick up the rest.

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