The Top 10 Worst Airports for Winter Travel

These are the top airports for delays and cancellations during the winter months.

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Hayley Berg - Thu Jan 05 2023

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It’s no surprise that mountain towns attracting skiers and snowboarders from around the world are likely to run into frequent winter flight disruptions. Aspen and Vail, Colorado top the ranking as the two worst airports to fly through during winter, with Aspen seeing as high as one in three flights delayed more than an hour or canceled between December and the end of February.

Even those who may not be headed on a snow adventure trip should beware when flying into airports that see a high volume of winter weather related disruptions, from cold temperatures to blizzards and ice. Fargo, North Dakota, whose winter weather has been made famous through many films and TV series of the same name, will see 20% of flights disrupted in winter. Lake effect weather in the north east pushes Rochester and Buffalo, New York to the top of the rankings as well, with frequent major snow events driving 14% - 15% of flights to be delayed in the winter. 

Worst Winter Airports (Ski Destinations)

Major Airports to Watch Out For

Even if you’re not flying into Aspen, Vail or Jackson Hole searching for snow, winter is the season when you’re most likely to experience weather related disruptions no matter the airport. Watch out for more frequent long delays and cancellations in winter if you’re flying through these top 10 worst major airports in winter. 

What to do if you’re flying this winter?

Before you book: 

  1. Give yourself a buffer day: The best way to ensure you make it to your destination on time is to give yourself some extra wiggle room, especially if you’re traveling for an important event. If unexpected weather or disruptions impact your trip, you’ll have a buffer day to rebook/reschedule to get to your destination on time. 

  2. Fly in the morning: Disruptions are inevitable when flying, but a delay or weather in the morning can snowball (no pun intended!) into airport wide disruptions by the afternoon or evening. Book the first flight out of the day to steer clear of backed up tarmacs, and to give yourself options for flights later in the day in the event that your flight is delayed or canceled. 

  3. Add Hopper’s Flight Disruption Guarantee when you book: No matter how you prepare, sometimes delays, cancellations and missed connections are inevitable. We can’t control the weather! Add Hopper’s Flight Disruption Guarantee when you book on Hopper for a small fee. If your flight is delayed, canceled or you miss a connection, you can instantly rebook yourself on the next available flight (no matter which airline) directly in the Hopper app at no charge. No waiting in long lines at a customer service desk, no waiting on hold. Just rebook yourself and get on with your trip! 

Within 24 hours of your trip

  1. Know what options you have available: Know what other flights are headed to your destination the same day as your trip in case you’re disrupted and need to get on another flight. 

  2. Know what’s included with your ticket. Do you have the option to change your flight with no fees? If so, consider changing to after a storm is expected.

  3. Check airline policies. Some airlines may offer compensation or travel credit if your flight is canceled within a few hours of departure. Other carriers may offer hotel stays for passengers whose flights are canceled. Know what policies are offered by your airline ahead of time. Many carriers will often waive change fees due to weather, so be sure you’re up to date on your airline’s latest policy.

  4. Sign up for alerts & check flight status before you go to the airport. You’ll want to know about delays and cancellations as early as possible. On most U.S. carriers, passengers can sign up for text, email, and/or in-app notifications about any changes to their itinerary including delay and cancellations. Travelers using the Hopper app are also notified as soon as we are aware of any disruptions. Always check your flight status before heading to the airport so you know about delays ahead of time.

If you’re delayed/canceled:

  • Contact the airline/customer service - Head to the airline ticket agents’ counter ASAP. Pro tip: multi-task! Call the airline call center while you’re waiting in line.

  • If you’re already at the airport, find a self-serve kiosk at the airport - Some airlines offer self-serve kiosks right in the airport. Scan your boarding pass/enter your trip details and you may be able to rebook yourself on a new flight and print a new boarding pass right from there. 

  • Make changes online or on the airline’s app - Many carriers allow you to find a new flight and rebook directly on their website or in the app.

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