The Worst Airlines and Airports for On-Time Arrivals

Trying to find the perfect flight is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Between the timing, the prices, and the various airports, the entire booking process can be extremely stressful. 

One of the biggest conundrums facing travelers is what airline to fly. Assuming the prices are comparable, does it really matter? What if we told you that over the past year, Virgin America flew from San Francisco to Los Angeles an average of 28 minutes faster than Southwest Airlines? Would that help you decide?

The website FiveThirtyEight did the dirty work for us, by analyzing the on-time statistics for airlines and airports. Their findings are guaranteed to give you the upper hand when you’re booking your next trip. 


Virgin America is the fastest airline for on-time flights. (Photo: FiveThirtyEight)

When it comes to specific airlines, it’s crystal clear which carrier has the most on-time arrivals: Virgin America, which saves travelers about seven minutes per flight segment. Flying Alaska Airlines will save passengers five minutes, and Delta is the most reliable of the mega-sized carriers, saving travelers about four minutes per segment.

On the other hand, United could probably learn a thing or two from the other airlines. Travelers flying on the large carrier can expect to add five minutes onto their travel time. American wasn’t far behind, adding four minutes per flight segment.

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And while most people don’t often have a lot of say in which airport they use, when they do, this next chart might help save some time. FiveThirtyEight also measured the extra minutes added by an airport for departures and arrivals.


Flying into Honolulu Airport will save passengers about 10 minutes on a round rip. (Photo: FiveThirtyEight)

Coming in at the top of the list was Honolulu Airport, which actually saved travelers time on a round trip. Flying into or out of Portland Airport saves travelers three minutes, and the San Diego Airport saves two minutes. According to the report, these three airports likely perform better due to their predictable weather and modest air traffic volumes.

Related: 12 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Airports

On the other end of the spectrum was….LaGuardia airport. According to FiveThirtyEight, flying into or out of this airport will add 56 minutes onto a round trip. The other New York City area airports didn’t fair much better, with a trip to JFK adding 46 minutes to your trip. Newark added 42 minutes. 

FiveThirtyEight gathered the data by comparing actual travel times from one airline against other airlines on the same route. The website also took diverted, delayed, and canceled flights into account while compiling the overview. 

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