The Worst Airports for Winter Travel

Patrick Surry - Nov. 12, 2014


  • Avoid O’Hare in Chicago! 42% of flights are delayed at O’Hare during the winter
  • Chicago, Newark, Denver, and Fort Lauderdale have more than a third of flights delayed during winter months
  • Airports in warm areas like Florida can also be impacted by winter storm delays in other places, due to their popularity during the season
  • If you’re flying out of New York, you’re less likely to be delayed if you fly out of JFK or LaGuardia instead of Newark
  • Hawaii is your best bet for uneventful winter travel. We recently posted some great deals to Hawaii on our Facebook page or check the Flight Explorer.

  Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.11.45 AM

Winter hasn’t even officially started yet, but the cold weather seems to have arrived early in many parts of the US. As travelers begin to make plans to escape the cold this winter, the research team at Hopper decided to investigate which airports are most likely to have delays.

In order to find out, we analyzed this year’s flight search data to determine the 20 most popular airports during the winter months.  These airports account for about 75% of flight search during winter months and are likely to be the busiest.  On the map, the size of the dot indicates the popularity during the winter season.

We then looked at the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) figures on airport delays ( The color of the dot indicates the percentage of flights delayed at that airport.

If you’re planning a vacation, you’ll want to avoid any large red or purple circles because they’ll be busy and are most likely to leave a large percentage of travelers stranded during the winter months.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 2.40.40 PM *Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) Update: While Fort Lauderdale was delay prone last year, the airport was a “one runway” airport. On September 18, 2014 the airport commissioned a new commercial runway. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport now has dual parallel runways and representatives state that the airport should not experience the delays of the past unless, of course, it is impacted by weather. Our data also show it’s the cheapest Florida destination from the average US airport.  


The data presented in this analysis comes from Hopper’s combined feed of Global Distribution Service (GDS) data sources which includes billions of trips per day.  Demand is represented as the number of queries not actual ticket purchases, and is calibrated across all GDS sources for each market. The flight delay data comes from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics figures on airport delays (

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