Catching a plane should be easy enough. Get through security, find your way to the gate, climb aboard, and let the pilots do their thing. In reality, though, about 22 percent of flights in 2018 were held up by delays, cancellations, and diversions, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. And that’s after giving flights wiggle room of 15 minutes before being considered late.
You can’t expect the same number of delays from every airport, though. The Wall Street Journal ranked America’s 20 biggest airports to figure out which was most reliable, taking into account percentage of on-time flights, percentage of canceled flights, average delay time, average time taxiing, and how long it takes to get through security.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) soared above the rest with a score of 80.5 out of 100. For reference, the number two airport, Seattle-Tacoma in Washington, had a score of 69. Arizona’s desert climate might help its airport stay reliable. Over the course of a year, a mere 0.36 percent of Phoenix’s flights were delayed because of the weather, compared with the national average of 0.61 percent. Even when PHX’s flights are delayed, the wait time tends to be short, and the time from leaving the gate until takeoff is also on the shorter end, according to WSJ. If you do find yourself stuck at the airport, though, at least you can entertain yourself with these free things to do while waiting for your flight.
On the other end of the spectrum, Newark Liberty International in New Jersey was the least reliable major airport, with a harsh 9.5 rating. Only 67 percent of its flights are on time, which doesn't bode well for passengers—these bizarre reasons for flight delays might be to blame. Its two nearby airports, JFK and LaGuardia, rounded out the bottom three, so New Yorkers and local visitors seem to be out of luck finding reliable flights.
Check out the rest of the top ten most reliable airports from the Wall Street Journal:
1. Phoenix (PHX): 80.5 reliability score
2. Seattle-Tacoma (SEA): 69
3. Las Vegas (LAS): 67
4. Denver (DEN): 63.5
5. Dallas–Fort Worth (DFW): 61
6. Los Angeles (LAX): 60
7. Minneapolis–St. Paul (MSP): 59
8. Orlando (MCO): 57
9. Atlanta (ATL): 54.5
10: Detroit (DTW): 53.5
Now that you know which airports are reliable for takeoff, take a peek at the airports with the scariest landings in the world.