America's Top 20 Time-Draining Airports

There are many things that drive travelers crazy but airport delays have to rank among the most frustrating. Forbes has put together their list of the 20 top time-draining airports based on categories such as late aircraft related delays, cancellations, weather related delays and the percentage of on-time arrivals and departures. Check out which airports you should avoid if possible and see how your local favorite stacks up. The list, inside…

20. Washington, D.C.: Washington National

19. Miami, Fla.: Miami International

18. Las Vegas, Nev.: McCarran International

17. Phoenix, Ariz.: Sky Harbor International

16. Washington, D.C.: Dulles International

15. Los Angeles, Calif.: Los Angeles International

14. Charlotte, N.C.: Charlotte Douglas International

13. Seattle, Wash.: Seattle/Tacoma International

12. Detroit, Mich.: Detroit Metro Wayne County

11. Denver, Colo.: Denver International

10. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.: Minneapolis St. Paul International

9. Atlanta, Ga.: Hartsfield-Jackson

8. Philadelphia, Pa.: Philadelphia International

7. Boston, Mass.: Logan International

6. San Francisco, Calif.: San Francisco International

5. Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas: Dallas/Ft. Worth International

4. New York, N.Y.: La Guardia

3. New York, N.Y.: Kennedy International

2. Newark, N.J.: Newark Liberty International

1. Chicago, Ill.: O’Hare

Want more? Check out Forbes Top 100 Time-Draining Airports.

America’s Most Time-Draining Airports [Forbes]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. shockwaver says:

    “10. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.: Minneapolis St. Paul International”

    Minneapolis is my favorite airport to fly in to. I do it several times a year, and out of all the airports I’ve ever flown in to, it is by far the nicest. It’s laid out well, plenty of restaurants to choose from, shops to look at if you’re bored. (There is this one restaurant my wife and I always stop at if we have time, it’s the French Meadows Cafe, damn good food, reasonable prices and good portion sizes – the fact that it is all organic is just a bonus).

    I used to live in Atlanta.. and I loathe and despise that airport.

  2. missdona says:

    Newark is always on these lists, it’s just a matter of what place in the top 5. Newark-Liberty is a life-sucker.

  3. friendlynerd says:

    So, nearly all the relevant airports in the country then?

  4. VA_White says:

    Atlanta *is* awful. Their security line is run by mentally challenged baboons. I love when it runs out the front door and into the sweltering Georgia heat. Good times.

  5. ShabazOSU says:

    Philly is the worst, in my opinion. 9 times out of 10 when I fly in there I get delayed.

  6. Is it any wonder that most of these are in notoriously bad weather areas? I think Detroit Metro should be proud not to be in the top 10. Quite an accomplishment.

  7. amyschiff says:

    Yay for Cleveland Hopkins not being on the list. I’ve never been delayed there.

  8. Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen says:

    Gee, The nations busiest airports are the ones with the most delays?

    Who would’ve thunk it?

  9. Every time I’ve flown abroad, I’ve gone through Atlanta. Every time I’ve returned, the greatest culture shock of the entire trip has been coming back to Atlanta’s customs and baggage agents. If I were a foreign visitor coming to the US for the first time, I’d get back on the plane.

    This summer I’m leaving via O’Hare, but with a nice long connecting layover (knock on wood). And plenty of time for Pizzeria Uno, which is as close as I’ll get to the “real thing”.

  10. DeafChick says:

    Good going DC but I fly out of Dulles all the time and I don’t see the problem.

  11. Mr_D says:

    Hooray! #1! Eat it, New Jersey!

  12. theblackdog says:

    BWI FTW! Never had a delay from there.

  13. lua21 says:

    Oh Dallas/Ft Worth, my nemesis. Everytime I fly through DFW I get delayed and it is normally when I am coming from Australia so the flight is already long enough. Last time I was delayed for a few hours at LAX causing me to miss my flight out of DFW by 10 minutes!! This also happened to be one of the last flights taking off before a tornado warning hit. By the end of that trip it is safe to say I was very stinky.

  14. mountaindew says:

    @Ash78: Yes, Dallas/Fort Worth was the same way. I wondered if they had forgotten about such thing as ‘common courtesy’?

  15. mike says:

    Good to see that Washington National and Dulles are on here. Surprised that it’s 20/16 respectively.

  16. TheDude06 says:

    I would like to see a list of the airports ranked in volume of flights next to this list.

  17. missdona says:

    @Mr_D: We’ll happily eat it! Can you believe I used to do a Newark-to-Chicago round-trip every week? Bru-tal.

  18. AD8BC says:

    I like DFW myself… I haven’t had too much trouble there since I moved to Dallas last year…

    I like Detroit and MSP as well. I never have trouble at Detroit and rarely at MSP, mostly weather.

    I hate O’Hare… but I can get affordable flights from DFW to ORD, than to any other airport in the area of Northern Indiana where I have family.

  19. Youthier says:

    @Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen: Plus, 9 out of the top 12 would be prone to inclement weather during the winter. Not to defend O’Hare (because I can’t stand it) but this was a pretty terrible Midwest winter

  20. davere says:

    I’m surprised Denver is not higher up on the list. I play extra to avoid having a layover there when having to cross the fly-over states.

    Every time I’ve mad the misfortune to have a connection in Denver, my flights have been delayed or canceled. Every time. I’m not exaggerating.

  21. I didn’t even need to read the list to know what would be #1. Granted, it’s a busy airport in a place that gets some tough weather. But it does make Midway seem like a wonderful place, even if it is way out there.

  22. Carl3000 says:

    This is like every major American airport.

  23. xnihilx says:

    I’ve flown through LAX twice. Talk about a waste of time. What’s with having to check out of security and then go back through security to change airlines? Chicago O’Hare is my “home” airport and it hasn’t been bad so far. Of course you’re going to have “time wasted” for incliment weather in Chicago….ice storm anyone?

  24. t325 says:

    w00t, STL FTW. The only times my flights in or out of STL have been delayed were due to severe weather conditions. I’ve always been in the air just a couple minutes after pushing back from the gate, no waiting on the tarmac or anything like that

  25. mikelotus says:

    shame on the politically correct for renaming the first airport in the USA to “Newark Liberty.” I am sure the Bush administration had something to do with it since they are clearly the evil spawn of satan.

  26. pmcpa2 says:

    Philly… I’ve never had a delay longer then 5 minutes! And wasn’t Philly just voted one of the best international airports in the US?

  27. nicless says:

    Apparently I’m pretty lucky that I’ve only ever been delayed once on one leg of a trip I have made multiple times. From Detroit to Philly to Boston and back. All 3 on the list, but I’ve only had the one problem and it was taken care of quickly

  28. quagmire0 says:

    Chicago’s #1 Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  29. BlondeGrlz says:

    @VA_White: I’m shocked Atlanta isn’t number 1. I hate that airport with a passion, especially since they’re the hub for Delta.

    I’ve had no problems using La Guardia for connections and I miss the days when Dulles was actually the better alternative to National. Like theblackdog said BWI now wins.

  30. Narockstar says:

    @shockwaver: That’s funny because I HATE the Minneapolis Airport. When I die, hell will be the MPLS airport. It is always snowing. Always. My last flight in had to circle the airport for almost an hour and a half before we landed. I thought I was going to get airsick and then when we finally landed, I still had to face the MPLS airport. There might be some decent food options, but if you have a morning flight, the only thing open is about 4 Burger Kings, and if you leave the passenger area after a flight, but have to wait for your ride, there is nothing, not even a coffee shop. I’ve also had more problems with the TSA staff than at any other airport. And finally, the wi-fi, for the love of god, why is there no wi-fi when you really need it?

  31. MexiFinn says:

    Yay! Boston is on the list. Oh, wait, that’s a bad thing…

  32. Eels says:

    I am really suprised JFK is not #1. I flew out of there in March and was delayed for like ten hours. Place was like a refugee camp.

  33. sasper says:

    I love that I’ve been on O’Hare -> LAX flights weekly for the past two months (and for the next 5 months) and have yet to experience a delay or cancellation at all.

    (knock on wood)

  34. dragonfire81 says:

    Wow two of the airports I frequently use are in the top 10. Number 1 is a no brainer. I have flown O’hare multiple times and NEVER once got out on time.

  35. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    My parents now avoid all air travel because of Führer Bush’s security measures.

  36. VA_White says:


    Yeah, at my last job my biggest customer was Home fucking Depot so I had to go to Atlanta all the time. Like dealing with HD wasn’t bad enough, I also had to endure the gauntlet of Atlanta airport on the front and back end of each soul-sucking business trip.

  37. larsitron says:


    I have to disagree with you there. I think out of all of ’em that Minneapolis is the nicest airport around.

    For me I guess there always seems to be a trade off. Either the airport is nicely set up with wi-fi and amenities but the fights are chronically late or its visa versa.

  38. darksunfox says:

    @shockwaver Narockstar and larsitron

    Living in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis airport is tough because of the weather, especially in the winter months, causes so many delays and problems. And baggage claim can be absolutely brutal depending on the airline. Not consistently as bad as some, but if you catch a bad day, this airport can still ruin your day pretty quick. My $.02

  39. tyri says:

    The best airport to fly out of in my opinion is Kansas City International. Every flight I’ve had out of that airport has been on time, and the only delays have been due to weather. Also they have the simplest airport layout that is easy to navigate and they have free wifi, and other new amenities (due to the major renovation of all the terminals).

    The only thing that I don’t like about KCI is that the majority of the food options are outside of the gates, so you have to go out and then come back into security (which no one likes to do).

  40. BlondeGrlz says:

    @VA_White: I am so so sorry. I think I would rather stab myself in the eyeball with a rusty nail. Thank God you said “last job” or I was going to call the nearest mental hospital and save you a room.

  41. carblover says:

    @Narockstar: there’s a starbucks downstairs by baggage claim (inside), no security check required!

  42. Truthie says:

    The only thing worse than flying out of Newark is trying to get to JFK (taxi, shuttle, train, you name it and it takes FOREVER to get there).

  43. Yup – I still say the best large international airport in the US is Houston-IAH. I fly LAX-IAH on Continental at least 4 times a year and trying to get through the Continental terminal at LAX takes twice as long, even though it’s roughly 1/4th the size of the two terminals Continental occupies at IAH.

    Security at IAH is fast and seamless – I don’t even mind taking off my shoes because there is carpet and benches on the other side to put them back on. The gates are spread out, but the moving sidewalks mean you can get from the security checkpoint to the furthest gate in less than 5 minutes (I did that last Sunday.)

    Meanwhile at LAX it can take almost an hour just to get through the security line – and checked in from home and didn’t check bags! What a pain.

    Woo! Go Houston!

  44. He says:

    At least Washington National has short security lines thanks to a limited flight schedule. I’d rather wait in a lobby where I can walk around and do whatever than in a screening line like at Dulles.

  45. PeteyNice says:

    I do not understand the hate for Atlanta Airport. I live here and have never had a problem. I have flown during the busiest times (Weds before Thanksgiving, etc) and have never had more than 2 people ahead of me in the security line. Of course I use the other security line and don’t deal with the monstrosity of the main security line. Now, my flights never leave on time which sucks, but the airport itself is easy to navigate with the little train and there is Delta (and AirTran) check-in right next to the MARTA stop which is always empty so that is easy too.

    Same thing with the Newark (I lived in NJ for 25 years). Easy to get around, the pods structure of A & B makes security easier and the gates closer. It would suck if you had to go deep into the bowels of Terminal C, but for everything else Newark is a fine airport.

    Kennedy, OTOH, is the ninth circle of hell.

  46. LoSpaz says:

    So, if you live in NYC, you’re basically screwed?

  47. STrRedWolf says:

    May I remind that guy from Newark, NJ that the first airport to open after Kittyhawk is College Park, MD?

    Anyway, if AA screws up tomorrow at Chicago, I’ll sure to liveblog about it to the Consumerist.

  48. MountainCop says:

    There’s a reason those of us in Colorado say DIA stands for “Damned Inconvenient Airport”…

  49. dj_skilz says:

    Yeah, I knew that O’Hare would be in the #1 or #2 spot w/o even looking. Everyone here in Chicago knows that O’Hare has maintained that position for decades.

    MIDWAY when possible FTW!

  50. picardia says:

    Of course all three of my metro area’s airports are in the top five. This is why I take Amtrak anyplace that is less than a 6-hour train ride away.

  51. johnva says:

    @PeteyNice: I agree. Atlanta isn’t *that* bad, especially for the volume of flights they have going through there. It’s a bit worse if you have to go through security instead of just making a connection.

    O’Hare is WAY worse than Atlanta. I think that the people who think Atlanta is worse must not have experience going through O’Hare in the winter or something.

  52. mythago says:

    re volume of flights, Oakland and Las Vegas are similarly hellacious busy, yet neither are in the top 20 – and SFO doesn’t have the excuse of bad weather, either.

  53. Datacloud says:


    SFO is often socked in with fog, delaying most morning flights in my experience. Oakland has been rated as one of the top airports in the country by Wired, and as a traveling consultant, I can generally attest to this. If anyone is flying anywhere near the Bay Area, choose Oakland, or even San Jose, depending upon your final destination.

  54. sprocket79 says:

    Crap… I’m flying out of two of those airports next week for a business trip.

    I’m also onboard for the Atlanta airport hate. The whole subway thing confused the hell out of me.

  55. theoretical says:

    You know, I don’t really mind O’Hare.
    Maybe I’m just used to it by now.

  56. swimmey says:


    Speak for yourself! I love DIA.

    Advice for those making connections (or flying out, after a vacation): in the summer, choose a morning flight if at all possible. Afternoon thunderstorms can play havoc with flight schedules.

  57. mythago says:

    @datacloud, you’d think by now they would have learned to take the fog into account, particularly as the airport isn’t even IN San Francisco (technically I believe it is in San Bruno). Haven’t flown out of SJO in a while, but OAK is much improved with the new terminal.

  58. shockwaver says:

    @Narockstar: Well, I live in Winnipeg, so I guess I’m used to the snow :) – And I don’t know what you mean about wifi – last few times I’ve been through it, in different terminals, I’ve had wifi access. Not free naturally, but still had it.

  59. SinisterMatt says:

    I have never had any problems with DFW. The flights are usually on time and the airport is usually pretty quiet when I go. Security is pretty normal. Of course, I usually fly out of Dallas Love though as that is where Southwest is (cheap flights FTW!).

    Denver is more of a problem for me. I’ve had delays there and that airport is crazy.


  60. Coles_Law says:

    The thing with Atlanta is the lines may be long and the planes perpetually delayed, but that airport tram will get you where you need to go in no time flat. Why can’t I take that to Kansas City?

  61. Datacloud says:


    No, they continue to schedule flights into SFO every morning from San Luis Obispo (about four hours south), 80% of which get delayed. I now drive there unless I simply must fly for logistical reasons. Unfortunately, there are no offerings from SLO to OAK or SJO, but that may change with the new terminal here and runway extension.

  62. Narockstar says:

    @carblover: Thanks. I’ll try to remember that next time I’m in hell. I don’t usually check bags, so I guess that’s why I missed it. I’d be happier if it was a Caribou, but I guess you can’t have everything.

  63. julieannie says:

    The way Miami handles its International Flights and security in general is a joke. That airport is the worst I’ve been to.

  64. Preppy6917 says:

    @sprocket79: What’s confusing about the ATL subway? It’s either Terminal, A, B, C, D or E terminals….all in a straight line. I’ll take ATL to DFW or ORD any day.

    One of the better things about living in Baton Rouge is our teeny-tiny super-easy airport. Grand total of 8 gates….

  65. high_and_dry says:

    Where’s Bush Int’l in Houston? Long-assed distances between flight connections and either no time at all to make them or loooooong waits in between. Unfortunately I love flying Continental and that’s their hub so – oh well.

  66. Paladin_11 says:

    Seattle International is just fine — provided you don’t fly Alaska Airlines. It’s they’re major hub and they can’t keep a schedule for ****. Aside from being stuck at DIA for three days during an October blizzard once my worst airport experience was Philadelphia. No excuses, US Airways just sucks.

    In fact, in most cases it boils down to the airline, not the airport. And these days all the airlines suck.

  67. Paladin_11 says:

    D’oh. “…their major hub”.

  68. high_and_dry says:

    @Datacloud: @Datacloud: So true about Oakland airport. I live in S.F. but it is also often about $100 cheaper to fly in and out of OAK rather than direct to or from San Fran. Transport back to SF is fairly easy too, if you don’t have a lot of bags.

  69. MykalBloom says:

    Midway > O’Hare.

  70. jennieblue22 says:

    5. Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas: Dallas/Ft. Worth International
    That was my local airport for a number of years. It’s not number 1? Delay-wise, it was pretty bad (and now getting worse) – naturally living there I had to wait through every delay – good luck getting somewhere on time. I still remember when there were few or no delays there – when I was a small child. I can only hope…

  71. jennieblue22 says:

    @SinisterMatt: Dallas Love and DFW are two different places. Love is a small airport, hence the lack of wait times. If you ever lived in Dallas or another SW Airlines city and saw the “Set Love Free” commericals proposing removal of the Wright Amendment (which didn’t happen yet… stupid American Airlines wants our money) you could see exactly to how many places you could go from Love – not many.

  72. silverpie says:

    @Datacloud: I’m not surprised they don’t have many flights to SJO–SJC, on the other hand… ;)
    (SJO is San José, Costa Rica)

  73. TechnoDestructo says:

    I had an 8 hour wait at Sea-Tac 2 years ago. Fortunately it was in the terminal. But I couldn’t leave the gate the whole time, because it was 8 hours of ANY MINUTE NOW! IIRC, Alaska Airlines.

  74. fever says:

    I never have a problem at MSP, from either terminal. I do prefer Humphrey, though. I think the main reason that MSP is on this list is the seemingly 400 daily flights to Chicago, thus the domino effect. Of course, anytime you NEED a flight to Chicago, there’s never a convenient option.

  75. chantastic says:

    I’m a bit surprised Newark-Liberty didn’t get the top spot. That airport has turned into a real mess the past few years. The big problem is that there are way more flights than the runways can handle, so if you’re taking a flight after, say, 9:30am, you have to wait in the plane an hour+ before you take off.

    The companies have started to add that into the time of the flight, so it doesn’t really mess with connections (usually!), but… it’s nerve-wracking.

    I’d take it over JFK, though.

  76. t325 says:

    I had a layover in MSP once. Fortunately, I had plenty of time for the connection as that place was fucking huge. I got off the plane in one terminal, walked across it to a tram, took that, got off, walked through what seemed like a giant shopping mall, finally arriving at the other terminal. Nice airport, but huge, and certainly not where you want to be when you’re on time constraints and don’t know your way around.

  77. Ubik2501 says:

    Just in my personal experience, I’d switch Dulles with O’Hare on that list. I’ve had few problems with O’Hare, and it’s not that difficult to navigate, just large; Dulles, however, is a gigantic, badly-designed pain in the ass, especially with those antiquated people-movers.