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Your flight is now delayed: Ranking US airlines

Posted May 11

Everyone’s been there: Your flight is delayed, and the dreaded time has come to sleep at the airport overnight. Flight delays have always seemed an unavoidable part of life. But you don’t have to live with them forever.

The team at WanderBat, a travel research engine that’s part of the Graphiq network, aggregated data from the Bureau of Transportation Services to rank every domestic airline by flight difficulties. We looked at the past 12 months of the most recently available airline data (March 2015 through February 2016) and calculated the percent of flights from each airline that experienced an arrival delay or a cancellation.

Naturally, there is more to airlines than being on time, such as quality of service, pricing, seating and more, whereas this list is purely based on being on time. The data suggests that budget airlines tend to experience more delays and cancellations, on average, so you will sometimes get what you pay for.

We’ll start with a few airlines that have a better-than-average track record, then count down to the worst offenders.

#1. Delta Air Lines

Percent of Delta Flights Delayed or Canceled: 28.5%
8% Lower than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 32 minutes

Total Delta Flights: 888,058

#2. Alaska Airlines

Percent of Alaska Flights Delayed or Canceled: 32.7%
3.8% Lower than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 22 minutes

Total Alaska Flights: 174,674

#3. United Air Lines

Percent of United Flights Delayed or Canceled: 35.3%
1.2% Lower than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 40 minutes

Total United Flights: 519,798

#4. American Airlines

Percent of American Flights Delayed or Canceled: 36.0%
0.5% Lower than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 34 minutes

Total American Flights: 789,110

#5. Hawaiian Airlines

Percent of Hawaiian Flights Delayed or Canceled: 37.3%
0.8% Higher than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 14 minutes

Total Hawaiian Flights: 76,183

#6. Southwest Airlines

Percent of Southwest Flights Delayed or Canceled: 37.7%
1.2% Higher than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 29 minutes

Total Southwest Flights: 1,273,020

#7. SkyWest Airlines

Percent of SkyWest Flights Delayed or Canceled: 39.0%
2.5% Higher than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 33 minutes

Total SkyWest Flights: 598,485

#8. ExpressJet Airlines

Percent of ExpressJet Flights Delayed or Canceled: 39.3%
2.8% Higher than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 36 minutes

Total ExpressJet Flights: 558,810

#9. Virgin America

Percent of Virgin Flights Delayed or Canceled: 40.0%
3.5% Higher than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 31 minutes

Total Virgin Flights: 63,274

#10. JetBlue Airways

Percent of JetBlue Flights Delayed or Canceled: 40.2%
3.7% Higher than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 39 minutes

Total JetBlue Flights: 270,468

#11. Frontier Airlines

Percent of Frontier Flights Delayed or Canceled: 41.8%
5.3% Higher than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 40 minutes

Total Frontier Flights: 91,943

#12. Spirit Air Lines

Percent of Spirit Flights Delayed or Canceled: 51.9%
15.4% Higher than the National Average
Average Length of Delay: 40 minutes

Total Spirit Flights: 121,948

Note: Envoy Air and US Airways were excluded from the list, because you can no longer book flights with them (their last flights were in 2015). Envoy Air is now a subsidiary of American Airlines Group. US Airways merged with American Airlines.

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