Flying over Labor Day Weekend? You might want to pad in some extra patience if you’re leaving from Chicago’s Midway International Airport. So far in August, nearly half (47%) of all flights have been delayed, earning Midway the dubious distinction as America’s worst airport this month for disruptions. That also makes it the number 1 airport to avoid over Labor Day Weekend, according to the deal-finding site Hopper.
The Windy City’s largest airport, O’Hare, has tallied up 27% flight delays in August, which, amazingly, is enough to make it the less risky option if you intend to get to your destination on time.
Likewise, let’s say you’re flying out of the Washington DC area for the holiday weekend. At Baltimore & Washington International Airport (BWI), a whopping 43% of flights have taken off late this month, compared to Reagan National Airport (DCA)’s also lackluster 25% flight delay tally.
Dallas’s Love Field is yet another airport to avoid on Labor Day Weekend, according to Hopper, having racked up a 37% flight delay rate in August, compared to a not-quite-as-abysmal 24% at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
With flight delay and cancelation rates well above 2019 averages, experts say travelers should prepare for potential disruptions traveling over the long weekend and into fall.
On both Sunday and Monday, airports around the world tallied more than 21,000 flight delays, according to FlightAware tracking data. And on both days, more than a third of those delays occurred in the United States. On Sunday, 26 major airports saw at least 20% of their flights delayed. Yesterday, 30 U.S. airports hit that dubious milestone.
Hopper is predicting that airports will be packed with travelers throughout the weekend, with an average of 2.6 million passengers departing each day. Friday, September 2, will be the busiest travel day of the holiday, with closer to 2.7 million flyers.
Atlanta (ATL), Denver (DEN) and Los Angeles (LAX) top the list for the busiest airports over the extended holiday weekend. It’s a good idea to get to the airport early to allow for extra time getting through security.
Looking further ahead to fall and the holiday season, both airports and airlines have already begun downscaling capacity, signaling that they expect more disruptions ahead.
Two notable cases are London’s Heathrow Airport, which has extended its limits on daily passengers through late October. And last week, American Airlines cut 31,000 flights, or about 16%, from its November schedule, according to Cirium data. That’s on top of the 19,000 flights the Texas-based carrier has already cut this year.