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Can You Guess Which Airline Had the Most Cancellations in the U.S.?

PHOTO: Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock

Nobody—literally, name one person—likes waiting for a flight.

A new study just released from travel booking company BookIt has provided an eye-opening look at the current state of domestic flight delays. The information, which was compiled via the United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) over the last five years (2014-2019), provides useful insight for travelers who want to minimize the amount of time stuck at the airport. Here’s a look at the data and some tips on how you can plan for potential delays.

Airlines With the Longest Average Delays

Phoenix-based regional carrier Mesa Airlines, which has code-sharing agreements with American Airlines and United Airlines, took the top spot for “Average Delay Length (Minutes)” from 2014-2019 with an average delay of 66.91 minutes. Another regional carrier, Endeavor Air (which currently operates as a Delta Connection with Delta Air Lines) claimed the second spot with 58.52 minutes. And rounding out the top three, Republic Airways, a partner with United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines, had an average flight delay length of 55.53 minutes. Hawaiian Airlines had the shortest average delays—just 18.94 minutes, or less time than it would likely take you to finish an episode of your favorite sitcom.

Airlines With the Most Cancellations

The only thing worse than your flight being delayed is your flight never taking off at all. With 9,257 cancellations, American Airlines, the world’s largest airline by passengers, had the most number of cancellations in the U.S. in the last five years. In second place, PSA Airlines—an Ohio-based regional airline that operates under American Eagle for American Airlines—had 7,656 cancellations, and, in third place, Delta Air Lines had 5,280 cancellations. Once again, rounding out the list is Hawaiian Airlines, which had a pleasantly meager 21 cancellations from 2014-2019.

The Most Delayed Day of the Week Is…

There were a total of 1,326,001 delays in the last five years. Of those, the study shows that most delays fell on Fridays—210,161, to be exact. The next most popular day of the week for delays were Mondays, which had 208,773 delays between 2014 and 2019. And Thursday, which saw flyers encountering 204,404 delays (when they flew on that day), took third place. What’s the best day of the week to avoid delays? According to BTS’s information, it’s Saturdays, which saw a total of 149,367 delays.

Average Flight Delay Length by State

BTS gathered numbers from all airports in each state to compile the data for this category, which shows that Vermont has the longest average delay length at 68.15 minutes. In second place is Wyoming, with 59.90 minutes, and in third place is Maine, with 58.35 minutes. The state where you’ll wait the least amount of time is Washington, which, in the last five years, had an average delay length of 26.62 minutes.

How to Plan if You Have a Delay

When booking your next flight, perhaps consider the data in this article and the numbers BTS has compiled. If your flight is delayed (fingers crossed that it’s not!), there are a few best practices to keep in mind. First, choose an early flight–not only are they more likely to leave on time (they’re often immune from the ripple effect of a delay elsewhere), it will give you plenty of time to formulate a plan if a delay does arise. Additionally, get to a counter agent ASAP to see if you can get on standby for the next flight out. Also, although it’s more expensive, booking a nonstop flight (if possible) is ideal as you won’t have to deal with the hassle of rescheduling and lining up connections hampered by a delay. Lastly, consider bringing some “entertainment” in a personal bag (books, magazines, a laptop, etc.) if a delay is unavoidable and your best practices have only gotten you so far.

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