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Avoid These Airports if You Want to Reach Your Destination This Thanksgiving

Flight delays and cancellations are the worst at these airports.

Airports in the U.S. currently don’t have a great track record for holiday travels. This summer saw thousands of flights delayed and canceled every day before the Fourth of July. Last year, almost 3,500 flights were canceled on Christmas Eve. There remains a cocktail of issues plaguing the industry: staff shortages, air traffic controller shortages, storms, and natural events. But the bottom line is that it’s stressful to travel around the holidays, especially as airlines and airports seem unable to handle the high numbers.

According to a survey conducted by The Vacationer, 45.21% of people surveyed are planning to travel for Thanksgiving. Almost 60% have little to no confidence in airlines being able to avoid delays and cancellations this holiday season. It’s not surprising looking at the track record from the past few years. 

If you’re lucky, you might be able to avoid delays. The often-repeated advice is to fly direct, get early morning flights, and avoid the worst-performing airlines. There’s another variable though: airports. InsureMyTrip has compiled a list of worst airports in the U.S. for flight delays and cancellations, so take a look at their track records before you select your route.

Related: 11 Tips for Avoiding Flight Cancellations and Delays (and What to Do When It Happens)

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InsureMyTrip used data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) to assess how weather, system outages, flight disruptions, and other factors have affected U.S. airports in 2023. It includes data from January to July 2023 and examines the 75 busiest airports in the country based on flight arrivals.

According to this analysis, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico had the highest delay rate of 33.8%. In Florida, four of the state’s airports have had high delay rates in 2023: Orlando International, Palm Beach International, Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International, and Jacksonville International.

The best-performing airports so far in terms of delays are Minneapolis–Saint Paul International with 16.5% delays, Seattle–Tacoma International with 17.6% delays, and Salt Lake City International with 17.9%.


But at least these airports had flights getting people to their destinations–eventually. There are airports in the U.S. that were plagued by cancellations in the first half of this year, and Newark Liberty International (3.78%) topped this unfortunate chart. Following closely behind Newark are its neighbors in New York—La Guardia and JFK, which take the second and third spot respectively for most delays in 2023 at 3.32% and 2.91%.

Compared to these, the best airport out of the 75 analyzed was Kona International Airport in Hawaii with only 0.67% canceled flights. To be fair, Newark has over 1,000 arrivals and departures daily (JFK has over 1,200), while Kona has fewer than 200 daily.

This data may come in handy if you also know the hubs of different airlines. United, for example, has a hub at Newark. During the Fourth of July weekend, even the CEO of United couldn’t fly out of the New York area, and the airline blamed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for chaos due to a staff crunch. After it was hit hard by disruptions this summer, the airline decided to cut back flights from 410 to 390 a day from the airport

It’s important to be flexible and prepared when flying. Be patient with the airline and airport staff, know your passenger rights, and don’t forget to ask for refunds and hotel/meal vouchers.