Airlines and Airports With the Worst On-Time Arrival Performances in 2023 — A Closer Look at Flight Delays, Cancellations and More
As we get deeper into 2023, airports worldwide seem to have become synonymous with a lingering sense of anticipation and frustration. However, there are glimmers of hope amid this turbulence.
According to the latest LendingTree study, on-time arrivals from January through April this year closely mirrored the same period in 2022. But questions remain: What lies behind this recurrent theme of delayed arrivals? And what are the implications for consumers? Unraveling the core of the issue, it becomes evident that late-arriving aircraft shoulder the greatest blame.
Let’s delve into the intricate details of this study, which takes an in-depth look at on-time arrival performances, analyzing data based on the year, airline, airport, month and more.
On this page
- Key findings
- On-time arrivals in 2023 are similar to the same period in 2022, but delays are the highest since 2014
- Worst on-time arrival performance by airline in 2023: Frontier
- Worst on-time arrival performance by airport in 2023: Daniel K. Inouye International in Hawaii
- Worst on-time arrival performances by month: June, July and August
- Why flights have been delayed so far in 2023
- 4 things to know when your flight is delayed
- 76.49% of domestic flights arrived on time from January through April 2023. That’s similar to 76.25% across the same period in 2022 but significantly worse than 87.04% across the same period in 2021. Meanwhile, 21.60% of domestic flights from January through April 2023 were delayed — the highest percentage in the same period since 2014.
- Frontier Airlines has had the worst on-time arrival performance so far in 2023. Just 65.41% of Frontier flights arrived on time from January through April 2023. The next-worst airlines were Hawaiian Airlines (66.39%) and Spirit Airlines (66.97%). PSA Airlines (84.33%), Republic Airways (83.56%) and Endeavor Air (82.37%) have had the best on-time arrival performances.
- At the airport level, Daniel K. Inouye International in Hawaii has had the worst on-time arrival performance. Only 67.57% of flights arrived in Honolulu on time from January through April 2023, followed by Orlando Sanford International (67.71%) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (68.61%), both in Florida. Among the 100 largest airports, Blue Grass in Kentucky has had the best on-time arrival rate at 83.34%.
- On-time arrivals since 2018 have been least common in the summer. After removing 2020 data — which deviated from trends amid the start of the coronavirus pandemic — June (74.50%), July (75.30%) and August (75.83%) have had the worst on-time arrival rates dating to 2018.
- Late-arriving aircraft are the main source of delays. An aircraft arriving late (and forcing its next flight to leave late) was responsible for 38.99% of total delayed minutes from January through April 2023. Air carrier delays within airlines’ control were second at 35.43%.
On-time arrivals in 2023 are similar to the same period in 2022, but delays are the highest since 2014
Our study sheds light on on-time arrivals, delays, cancellations and diverted flights. We analyzed data from January through April 2023 (the latest month available at the time of our research), using the four-month stretch to compare to previous years.
Going back 10 years to January through April 2014, 74.07% of domestic flights arrived on time, with delays affecting 21.99%. (A flight is considered delayed if it arrives at the gate 15 minutes or more after the scheduled arrival time.)
Over the years, the percentage of on-time arrivals showed varying trends, reaching a peak of 87.04% in 2021 (a large jump from 77.36% in 2020), indicating significant improvements in flight punctuality. While it may seem counterintuitive that airlines had more on-time arrivals during 2020 and 2021 amid the chaos of the pandemic, airports and airlines were under a lot less strain due to a decrease in passengers.
On-time arrivals, January through April (by year)
|Year||On-time arrivals||On-time (%)||Arrival delays||Delayed (%)||Flights canceled||Canceled (%)||Diverted||Flight operations|
Source: LendingTree analysis of Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) data. Note: Totals don’t equal 100% because BTS didn’t provide percentages based on diverted flights.
2023 tells a different story, as on-time arrivals dropped to 76.49% from January through April, similar to 2022 (76.25%) but the second-lowest since 2014. Meanwhile, flight delays this year surged to 21.60%, the highest since 2014. This significantly impacted travelers’ plans and patience. This decrease in on-time arrivals is likely in part due to the massive influx of travelers this year compared to the pandemic years, when travel options were limited. In fact, every day from January through April 2023, more passengers passed through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints than the same day the year before.
The good news is, despite the highest percentage of delayed flights since 2014, only 1.66% were canceled in 2023 — the lowest over the four months studied since 2016. This could indicate that airlines and airports are working to mitigate cancellations, even amid the backdrop of more delays.
Worst on-time arrival performance by airline in 2023: Frontier
During the first four months of 2023, Frontier Airlines faced significant challenges in maintaining on-time arrivals, earning the unenviable title of the worst-performing airline.
Frontier Airlines had an on-time arrival percentage of 65.41%, reflecting a notable struggle in adhering to schedules. Frontier’s crew scheduling methods may contribute to these delays. Last year, Frontier CEO Barry Biffle reported that the airline was going to change how it scheduled crews with the hopes of having fewer delays.
Joining Frontier in the bottom three were Hawaiian Airlines and Spirit Airlines, with on-time arrival rates of 66.39% and 66.97%, respectively.
Worst on-time arrivals, January through April 2023 (by airline)
|Rank||Airline||On-time arrival %|
|12||Delta Air Lines||79.44%|
Source: LendingTree analysis of BTS data.
Conversely, the analysis highlighted airlines with the best on-time arrival performances during the same period. Leading the pack were PSA Airlines, Republic Airways and Endeavor Air, with more impressive on-time arrival percentages of 84.33%, 83.56% and 82.37%, respectively. These airlines have likely implemented efficient strategies and made operational adjustments to minimize delays and offer travelers a more reliable experience.
Worst on-time arrival performance by airport in 2023: Daniel K. Inouye International in Hawaii
LendingTree also examined the 100 largest airports (by total departing flights from January through April, from 2018 through 2023) to uncover which airports have the worst on-time arrival performances so far this year. Unfortunately, you may have to be patient when arriving in paradise.
Daniel K. Inouye International in Hawaii saw only 67.57% of flights arrive on time from January through April 2023. A runway project at the Hawaii airport is a significant cause of arrival (and departure) issues, according to an April SFGATE article.
Other warm-weather hot spots also see the most delays. Florida’s Orlando Sanford International (67.71%) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (68.61%) were the next least likely to have on-time flights. Warm locations can be more likely to experience flight delays due to pilots sometimes needing to delay takeoff until they can make the flights lighter to combat the heat. This can mean saying goodbye to excess fuel, baggage and potentially even passengers. Late departures often translate into late arrivals at the next destination unless the flight crew can make up the time.
Worst on-time arrivals, January through April 2023 (by airport)
|Rank||Airport||On-time arrival %|
|1||Honolulu, HI: Daniel K. Inouye International||67.57%|
|2||Sanford, FL: Orlando Sanford International||67.71%|
|3||Fort Lauderdale, FL: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International||68.61%|
|4||West Palm Beach/Palm Beach, FL: Palm Beach International||68.72%|
|4||Las Vegas, NV: Harry Reid International||68.72%|
|6||Orlando, FL: Orlando International||70.91%|
|7||San Francisco, CA: San Francisco International||71.52%|
|8||Kahului, HI: Kahului Airport||71.71%|
|9||White Plains, NY: Westchester County||71.97%|
|9||Lihue, HI: Lihue Airport||71.97%|
|11||Reno, NV: Reno/Tahoe International||73.28%|
|12||Colorado Springs, CO: City of Colorado Springs Municipal||73.52%|
|13||New York, NY: John F. Kennedy International||73.54%|
|14||Sarasota/Bradenton, FL: Sarasota/Bradenton International||73.64%|
|15||San Diego, CA: San Diego International||73.73%|
|16||Tampa, FL: Tampa International||73.91%|
|17||Pensacola, FL: Pensacola International||74.05%|
|18||Newark, NJ: Newark Liberty International||74.18%|
|19||Ontario, CA: Ontario International||74.27%|
|20||Dallas/Fort Worth, TX: Dallas/Fort Worth International||74.40%|
|21||Austin, TX: Austin-Bergstrom International||74.57%|
|22||Houston, TX: George Bush Intercontinental/Houston||74.66%|
|23||Oklahoma City, OK: Will Rogers World||74.84%|
|24||Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles International||74.88%|
|25||Miami, FL: Miami International||74.99%|
|26||Fresno, CA: Fresno Yosemite International||75.06%|
|27||San Antonio, TX: San Antonio International||75.13%|
|28||Kona, HI: Ellison Onizuka Kona International at Keahole||75.19%|
|29||Memphis, TN: Memphis International||75.23%|
|30||Little Rock, AR: Bill and Hillary Clinton Nat Adams Field||75.43%|
|31||Buffalo, NY: Buffalo Niagara International||75.44%|
|32||Milwaukee, WI: General Mitchell International||75.47%|
|33||Jacksonville, FL: Jacksonville International||75.50%|
|34||Grand Rapids, MI: Gerald R. Ford International||75.54%|
|35||Burbank, CA: Bob Hope||75.75%|
|36||New York, NY: LaGuardia||75.83%|
|37||Fort Myers, FL: Southwest Florida International||75.87%|
|38||Oakland, CA: Metro Oakland International||75.88%|
|39||New Orleans, LA: Louis Armstrong New Orleans International||76.02%|
|40||Boston, MA: Logan International||76.08%|
|41||Des Moines, IA: Des Moines International||76.09%|
|42||Omaha, NE: Eppley Airfield||76.11%|
|43||Hartford, CT: Bradley International||76.12%|
|44||Albuquerque, NM: Albuquerque International Sunport||76.13%|
|45||Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Sky Harbor International||76.15%|
|46||El Paso, TX: El Paso International||76.27%|
|47||Tucson, AZ: Tucson International||76.28%|
|48||Denver, CO: Denver International||76.31%|
|49||Richmond, VA: Richmond International||76.32%|
|50||Kansas City, MO: Kansas City International||76.33%|
|51||Wichita, KS: Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National||76.57%|
|52||Anchorage, AK: Ted Stevens Anchorage International||76.70%|
|53||Savannah, GA: Savannah/Hilton Head International||76.72%|
|54||Santa Ana, CA: John Wayne Airport-Orange County||76.88%|
|55||Long Beach, CA: Long Beach Airport||77.06%|
|56||Indianapolis, IN: Indianapolis International||77.24%|
|57||Tulsa, OK: Tulsa International||77.28%|
|58||Sacramento, CA: Sacramento International||77.33%|
|59||Palm Springs, CA: Palm Springs International||77.36%|
|60||Chicago, IL: Chicago O'Hare International||77.42%|
|61||Raleigh/Durham, NC: Raleigh-Durham International||77.48%|
|62||Birmingham, AL: Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International||77.65%|
|62||Dallas, TX: Dallas Love Field||77.65%|
|64||Fayetteville, AR: Northwest Arkansas National||77.73%|
|65||Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Hancock International||77.79%|
|66||Nashville, TN: Nashville International||77.86%|
|67||Albany, NY: Albany International||77.88%|
|68||Cleveland, OH: Cleveland-Hopkins International||77.92%|
|69||Knoxville, TN: McGhee Tyson||77.95%|
|70||Charleston, SC: Charleston AFB/International||78.14%|
|71||Cincinnati, OH: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International||78.23%|
|72||Chicago, IL: Chicago Midway International||78.53%|
|73||Columbus, OH: John Glenn Columbus International||78.71%|
|73||Portland, OR: Portland International||78.71%|
|75||Madison, WI: Dane County Regional-Truax Field||78.78%|
|76||Providence, RI: Rhode Island Tf Green International||78.98%|
|77||St. Louis, MO: St. Louis Lambert International||79.04%|
|78||Norfolk, VA: Norfolk International||79.09%|
|79||Louisville, KY: Louisville Muhammad Ali International||79.10%|
|80||San Jose, CA: Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International||79.25%|
|81||Rochester, NY: Frederick Douglass Grtr Rochester International||79.34%|
|82||Houston, TX: William P. Hobby||79.47%|
|83||Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia International||79.48%|
|84||Salt Lake City, UT: Salt Lake City International||79.50%|
|85||Greer, SC: Greenville-Spartanburg International||79.64%|
|86||Portland, ME: Portland International Jetport||79.71%|
|87||Baltimore, MD: Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall||79.86%|
|88||Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh International||79.93%|
|89||Greensboro/High Point, NC: Piedmont Triad International||80.00%|
|90||Washington, DC: Ronald Reagan Washington National||80.12%|
|91||Spokane, WA: Spokane International||80.19%|
|92||Charlotte, NC: Charlotte Douglas International||80.25%|
|93||Detroit, MI: Detroit Metro Wayne County||80.45%|
|94||Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis-St. Paul International||80.61%|
|95||Dayton, OH: James M. Cox/Dayton International||80.73%|
|96||Washington, DC: Washington Dulles International||80.75%|
|97||Boise, ID: Boise Air Terminal||80.89%|
|98||Atlanta, GA: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International||80.90%|
|99||Seattle, WA: Seattle/Tacoma International||82.02%|
|100||Lexington, KY: Blue Grass||83.34%|
Source: LendingTree analysis of BTS data. Note: The locations and airport names are as listed in the BTS data; names may vary locally.
When it comes to airports with on-time flight arrivals more in control, Blue Grass in Kentucky has the best on-time arrival rate at 83.34%. With fewer severe weather issues like hurricanes or blizzards, Kentucky may simply be an easier airport for airlines to manage flying into.
Worst on-time arrival performances by month: June, July and August
When it comes to on-time arrival performances, the summer months of June, July and August have consistently presented the most challenging conditions for airlines since 2018. (Note that this section’s data excludes 2020 because air travel wasn’t normal due to the pandemic.)
After analyzing the aggregated on-time arrival percentages for these months over the years, we noticed a concerning trend for those that love summer travel. There’s a continuous struggle to adhere to flight schedules during this peak travel period.
- The on-time arrival rate in June 2018 was 76.57%, but subsequent years fared worse. June 2019’s on-time percentage dipped to 73.43%, and it was only slightly higher in 2021 at 74.69%. The situation worsened in June 2022, with a 73.30% on-time arrival rate.
- In July 2018, the on-time percentage was 75.86%, which improved to 77.11% in 2019. However, 2021 saw a significant drop to 73.51%. While 2022 showed some recovery at 74.70%, the month’s performance remained subpar.
- August completed the trio of challenging summer months. August 2018 saw a 75.41% on-time arrival rate, which improved to 77.77% in 2019. Like July, August faced a setback in 2021, dropping to 74.69%. In 2022, there was a slight recovery to 75.46%.
Worst on-time arrivals (by month)
|2018||2019||2021||2022||2023||Average, 2018-19, 2021-23|
Source: LendingTree analysis of BTS data. Notes: 2020 was omitted because the data deviated from trends amid the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 2023 includes January through April based on data availability.
The factors contributing to the summer months’ on-time arrival struggles can be multifaceted. Similar to how tropical locations see flight delays due to heat, summer ushers in high temperatures across many areas of the Northern Hemisphere that may not see warm weather year-round like Hawaii and Florida.
Additionally, air travel is more common during the summer when kids are out of school and the weather is good, which can add increased strain on airlines and airports alike.
Why flights have been delayed so far in 2023
From January through April 2023, late-arriving aircraft was the main source of delays, accounting for 38.99% of total delayed minutes.
A single delayed flight can cause a domino effect on arrivals that travelers feel in many different airports. “If one of those elements isn’t working as it should, the effects can ripple across the whole country,” LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz says, citing staffing woes specifically.
Here’s the full breakdown of flight delays:
- Late-arriving aircraft (the present flight departs late because a previous flight with the same aircraft was late): 38.99% of total delayed minutes
- Air carrier delays within airlines’ control (such as maintenance or crew problems, baggage loading or fueling): 35.43%
- National Aviation System delay (a broad category that can include airport operations and heavy traffic volume): 19.79%
- Weather delay (significant weather, whether actual or forecasted): 5.58%
- Security delay (such as terminal or concourse evacuations or an aircraft needing to be reboarded): 0.21%
“Travel demand is back in a huge way, but airlines and airports are struggling to manage it,” Schulz says. “One of the big reasons is staffing shortages for everything from airlines and airports to even air traffic controllers. That can create huge problems that can be difficult to manage.”
Schulz believes there’s no question that at least some of the staffing issues we’re seeing today grew from the pandemic. “There were thousands of furloughs or layoffs in the darkest days of the pandemic, and the travel industry is still trying to recover in some ways,” Schulz says. “That includes everything from hiring new airport workers to training new pilots and air traffic controllers. These problems aren’t things that can be solved quickly, and we are still seeing these effects today.”
He also feels the explosive growth in travel we’ve seen in the past couple of years is, in part, a reaction to the time we spent in our homes, unable to go anywhere or do anything. “Those days are further in the rearview mirror now, but the memories of them are no doubt inspiring people to travel more and enjoy their freedom to travel that they missed so dearly,” Schulz says.
4 things to know when your flight is delayed
At the end of the day, flight delays that aren’t in our control happen. Luckily, there are some tips that savvy travelers can turn to when faced with a delay.
- You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. “Yes, it stinks when your flight is delayed, and, yes, you’re eager to get on your way,” Schulz says. “However, taking it out on the person behind the counter who had nothing to do with the issue isn’t going to help. In fact, it could make it worse.” Schulz believes people generally want to help others who are kind to them and recommends that you take a deep breath before stepping up to the counter. Then, greet that representative with a smile and a genuine greeting. “It might be hard to do when you’re mad, but it can increase your chances of getting the help you need,” he says.
- If your flight is canceled, you don’t have to settle for a voucher. According to Schulz, you can demand a refund of your ticket price and the associated fees. The U.S. Department of Transportation website says, “A consumer is entitled to a refund if the airline canceled a flight, regardless of the reason, and the consumer chooses not to travel.” That “regardless of the reason” part is key.
- Your credit card might be able to help. Not all credit cards will, but many cards come with at least some level of travel protection. Depending on the circumstances around the delay or cancellation, you may be entitled to reimbursement for certain expenses. “If you’re unsure about what your card offers, take the time to call your card issuer before you go,” Schulz says. “It may save you some headaches in the future.”
- Find an airport lounge. While not all credit cards offer travel protection, yours may give you access to an airport lounge as a part of its perks or rewards offerings. Facing flight delays can be frustrating, but having access to an airport lounge can turn this waiting time into a more enjoyable and productive experience. Stay informed with real-time flight updates, relax in comfortable seating and take advantage of amenities like quiet areas and spa-like facilities. Snack on complimentary treats and stay hydrated with beverages. Utilize workstations and free Wi-Fi to catch up on tasks, or socialize with fellow travelers. Explore entertainment options like TVs and magazines, freshen up with showers and ensure your devices are fully charged.
LendingTree researchers analyzed Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) data to find the airlines and airports with the worst on-time performances. A flight is considered delayed if it arrived 15 minutes or more after the scheduled arrival.
Researchers analyzed 2018-to-2023 data to find the 100 largest airports by total departing flights from January through April. We then ranked on-time arrival performances for 2023 from worst to best.