If you’re reading this story on your laptop or smartphone while waiting for a flight to or from Newark International Airport, we have some good and bad news. On one hand, there’s a decent chance your flight will be delayed. On the other, you’ll have plenty of time to file a complaint with the airline, airport and FAA.
According to the Wall Street Journal’s analysis of info from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 40 of the most frequently delayed domestic flights either take off or land from Newark.
The two most-delayed flights not only both originate at the New Jersey airport, but also share the same destination (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta) and airline (Delta). It’s likely not a coincidence that their daily scheduled departure times, (17:00 and 18:25) are also very close.
The WSJ reports that part of the problem for these two flights — which are late 60% and 49.5% of the time, respectively — probably lies in the route the planes must take:
Both flights out of Newark have to fly through heavily congested airspace in the Washington area, Delta says, where much of the traffic headed into and out of the Northeast meshes together, creating a choke point for the nation’s air travel. One flight, Delta 2843, also suffered because the airplane used on that trip comes to Newark from Atlanta in the late afternoon, and it runs chronically late.
Another problem at Newark is that the airlines operating there have all packed their schedules to the point where one delay has a devastating ripple effect. “There’s little ability for the airport to catch up unless airlines cancel flights,” writes WSJ’s Scott McCartney, “which they have been doing more often, sacrificing regional airlines and their small-jet flights for takeoff and landing slots for larger jets with more passengers.”
While the above-mentioned Delta flights were the most frequently delayed, they did not have the worst average length of delay. That honor goes to Southwest flight 1229 from NYC’s LaGuardia to Chicago Midway. Not only is it late 45% of the time, the average delay is 101 minutes, just edging out another NYC-Chicago flight (Continental flight 263 from Newark to O’Hare) whose average delay clocks in at 100 minutes, but which is only delayed 36% of the time.