Posted by: jwtarr | December 2, 2008

What We Know Now About Last Weekend’s Travel Woes


During the past several days, I bombarded you with updates on the weather and travel conditionsacross the country.  Some of you saw the blog in time, others of you like my colleague CJ didn’t get the message until she reached the airport.  But now that the dust has settled, we have a chance to look back and see just how bad the delays were this past Thanksgiving travel season.

I was on today looking for some deals on my Spring Break flight home to California.  While I was there I saw an article that included statistics on how holiday airline travelers fared with delays and cancellations. tracks these kind of numbers and came up with statistics on just how many flights were delayed and how many smiling passengers made it to their destination on time.  I spoke with a lot of my friends and professors about their travels and I have to say that these statistics seem pretty consistent with what I have been hearing.   

According to those statistics, a relatively respectable 80% of holiday airline travelers made it to their destination on time between Tuesday and Friday last week.

Friday saw an astonishing 90% of all domestic flights arrive at their respective gates on time.

But that’s when things took a turn for the worse.

While Saturday still was close to an 80% on time arrival rate, it was the calm before the storm.  Analysts say those travelers who waited it out an extra day to spend that last bit of quality time with grandma took the brunt of the traveling woes.  Heavy rain and snow in the Midwest and Northeast set the domino’s in motion across the country.  When all was said and done, less than 50% of travelers made it to their destinations on time on Sunday.

To put these numbers into perspective, you might want to take a look at these numbers from individual airports:

  • FlightStats say that only 35% of flights to Boston’s Logan airport arrived on time last Tuesday
  • Less than 63% made it on time to New York’s LaGuardia airport last Tuesday
  • Wednesday and Thursday at San Francisco’s airport saw only 66% and 62%, respectively, make it on time.
  • Just 29% of flights to Atlanta Hartsfield Airport made it on time on Saturday
  • And did I mention Sunday in Atlanta . . . forget about it.  You weren’t going to get anywhere on time.  Only 12% of flights were without delays.

But there were a couple of airports that managed to do pretty well during the weekend despite the weather and the throng of passengers.  Here are the top performers and the list might surprise you:

  • Salt Lake City (SLC)- 91% punctuality
  • Oakland (OAK)
  • Memphis (MEM)
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Detroit (DTW)

The airports following Salt Lake City on that list all had a punctuality rate higher than 86% . . . not too bad considering the weather!



  1. I’m a statistic! 😦

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