Want to avoid delays? Here are the 10 least reliable airports in the U.S.

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Want to avoid delays? Here are the 10 least reliable airports in the U.S.

There's a viral video going around of a soldier sitting on an airport floor watching his daughter's birth on FaceTime. Brooks Lindsey's flight home from Dallas to Jackson, Mississippi, was delayed, so he sat and watched his wife give birth on his phone. Another passenger filmed him watching on his phone as the emotion of the situation washed over his face until finally, we see the open-mouthed joy as his daughter is born.

The least remarkable part of this story is that his flight was delayed. About one-fifth of flights are delayed or canceled each year in the U.S., according to the Federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics. In Lindsey's case, the delay worked out. If it hadn't happened, he would have been in the air when his daughter was born, his wife said to the Love What Matters website.

For the rest of us, delays are usually a headache, but the airport we fly out of makes a difference. For example, it's not clear which airport Lindsey got stuck in. Dallas has two: Dallas Love Field and Dallas/Fort Worth International, the more popular of the two. Departures from Dallas Love Field are delayed more than 25% of the time, while flights from Dallas/Fort Worth are delayed a little less than 20% of the time.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics tracks on-time performance for every flight in the country, so we can tell exactly which airports are the best at getting flights out on time. We looked at the 50 busiest airports in the U.S. to learn which airports fared worst when it came to punctual takeoffs in 2017.

The 10 most unreliable airports

  1. Newark Liberty International, New Jersey
    Percent of flights departing on time: 73.42

  2. Dallas Love Field
    Percent of flights departing on time: 74.5

  3. William P. Hobby, Houston
    Percent of flights departing on time: 74.6

  4. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Florida
    Percent of flights departing on time: 74.7

  5. San Francisco International
    Percent of flights departing on time: 74.9

  6. John F. Kennedy International, New York City
    Percent of flights departing on time: 75.6

  7. LaGuardia, New York City
    Percent of flights departing on time: 75.8

  8. Los Angeles International
    Percent of flights departing on time: 75.83

  9. Chicago Midway International
    Percent of flights departing on time: 76.5

  10. Metropolitan Oakland International, California
    Percent of flights departing on time: 76.9

The data show fliers in the New York area should probably prepare for delays. Luckily, there's hardly ever any traffic getting to New York-area airports (oh wait, it's actually a NIGHTMARE).

via GIPHY

For some serenity, let's check out the airports with the best numbers when it comes to flights leaving on time.

The 10 most reliable airports

  1. Daniel K. Inouye International, Honolulu
    Percent of flights departing on time: 91.9

  2. Salt Lake City International
    Percent of flights departing on time: 86.2

  3. Minneapolis-St. Paul International
    Percent of flights departing on time: 86

  4. Pittsburgh International
    Percent of flights departing on time: 85.4

  5. General Mitchell International, Milwaukee
    Percent of flights departing on time: 84.2

  6. Washington Dulles International, Washington, D.C.
    Percent of flights departing on time: 84.1

  7. Indianapolis International
    Percent of flights departing on time: 84

  8. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International
    Percent of flights departing on time: 83.9

  9. Kansas City International, Missouri
    Percent of flights departing on time: 83.87

  10. Portland International, Oregon
    Percent of flights departing on time: 83.8

How to beat delays

Even if you exclusively fly out of a city with a reliable airport like Honolulu, it's always a good idea to check your flight status early and often as your trip approaches. Check with your airline to see how you can get updates if your itinerary changes. Most let you sign up to get flight information on your phone.

Delays will happen, so you should know your rights as a passenger. For example, airlines must provide working bathrooms and medical attention to passengers if a plane gets stuck on the tarmac. Airlines also have to provide regular updates if delays stretch 30 minutes past your departure time.

Check out our guide to your rights as an air passenger to learn more.

Image: Izabela Habur