Which US airports have the longest and shortest delays?

 Whether your flight makes it to your vacation spot on time can make or break your trip.

As the busy summer travel season gears up, the website Places to Travel crunched the Bureau of Transport Statistics flight delay data from January 2023 to February 2024 to find the 20 airports with the longest average arrival delays and the shortest. They only looked at domestic flights to airports that averaged over one flight a day.

The FAA considers any flight 15 or more minutes late on arrival as delayed.

"Interestingly, the data doesn’t show a clear trend about the size of airports," commented Jason Wilson, CEO of Places to Travel. "People may be perhaps forgiven for thinking that due to the sheer number of flights arriving at some of the larger airports, such as San Diego International or Nashville International, these larger airports would regularly be seeing far bigger delays."

The big loser was Provo Airport in Utah, which clocked combined delays of 61 days. Nearly 40% of arriving planes were delayed. The late flights averaged delays of 1 hour 42 minutes. 


Orlando came in second worst for flight delays. Passengers there waited an average of 1 hour 34 minutes for flights. About 28% of all arriving flights were delayed.

The airport with the longest combined delays was Dallas-Fort Worth with combined delays of over 11 years. That high number has to do with the fact that DFW has a lot more planes coming in than Provo. However, the percentage of delays was much lower at DFW at just over 21%. The average delay time was 1 hour 29 minutes.

Charlotte Douglas International took fourth place with average delays of 1 hour and 28 minutes. That was over 19% of all flights. 

Philadelphia rounded out the worst five with average delays of 1 hour 26 minutes. More than 21% of flights arriving in the City of Brotherly Love were delayed.

The combined delays of the 20 worst airports came to 255 years of travel time.

"The findings do show that a massive number of flights are delayed, resulting in traveler stress and potential missed connections, among other consequences, and the air travel infrastructure needs to urgently adapt to handle the massive volumes of passengers to rectify this," Wilson said.

The best airport with the shortest delays still had about 20% of the arriving flights delayed, with a combined total of 40 days. That was Hilo, Hawaii. Passengers waited an average of 40 minutes.

Nationwide in 2023, 751.4 million people flew domestically. About 20% of those arriving flights were delayed.


The Department of Transportation made news recently when they announced new rules guaranteeing an automatic refund if your plane is delayed by more than three hours. On top of that, the DOT levied record fines against airlines in 2023.

"In 2023, DOT issued the largest fines in the history of the consumer protection office. This includes a $140 million penalty against Southwest Airlines for failing passengers during the 2022 holiday meltdown," stated the U.S. Bureau of Transportation site. "The action, which was in addition to over $600 million DOT already ensured was refunded by Southwest to passengers, requires Southwest to establish a $90 million compensation system for future passengers affected by significant delays and cancelations."

How to avoid delays

Travel experts agree on several strategies to avoid delayed flights.

  • Book the earliest flight possible.
  • Use FlightAware to find out how often a specific flight is delayed.
  • Book flights on airlines and to/from airports with high on-time percentages.
  • Book non-stop flights.
  • Check the weather along the entire route of the flight and make itinerary changes if there are any major systems in the forecast. 

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