Navigating Spring Break: The Best and Worst US Airports

Passengers in an airport terminal at dusk
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Len Varley - Assistant Editor 8 Min Read
8 Min Read

Spring break brings the promise of adventure, relaxation, and exploration. With a projected 33% increase in travel this year, spring breakers, airlines, and airports alike are gearing up for what is anticipated to be the busiest travel season this decade.

However, not all airports are created equal when it comes to ensuring smooth journeys.

AirHelp, an air passenger rights company, has compiled data on airports in the US with the most flight disruptions in the month of February.

The data provides valuable insights for travelers looking to avoid disruptions during this bustling Spring Break season.

Understanding Flight Disruptions

Before delving into the specifics of the best and worst airports, it’s essential to grasp what constitutes a flight disruption.

Flight disruptions encompass delays, cancellations, and other unforeseen issues that can throw a wrench into travel plans.

These disruptions can stem from various factors, including weather conditions, technical difficulties, or staffing shortages.

What Are Flight Disruptions?

Flight disruptions encompass a range of issues, including:

  • Delays: When a flight does not depart or arrive on schedule.
  • Cancellations: When a scheduled flight is scrapped altogether.
  • Diversions: When a flight is redirected to an alternative airport.
Passengers in an airport terminal.
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The Worst Airports for Spring Break Travel

Based on data collected from airports with 1,000 or more flights in February 2024, the following airports emerged as the most problematic for travelers:

1. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport – 28.24% Flights Delayed

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport tops the list with over a quarter of its flights experiencing delays.

2. Denver International Airport – 27.11% Flights Delayed

Denver International Airport, a major hub, struggles with significant delays, making it a less-than-ideal choice for spring break travel.

3. San Francisco International Airport – 27.02% Flights Delayed

San Francisco International Airport’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean can lead to weather-related disruptions, contributing to its high percentage of delayed flights.

4. Miami International Airport – 26.36% Flights Delayed

Miami International Airport, despite its popularity, grapples with a substantial number of delayed flights, potentially impacting spring break plans.

5. Palm Springs Municipal Airport – 23.18% Flights Delayed

Palm Springs Municipal Airport, located in Southern California, experiences a significant percentage of delayed flights, warranting caution for travelers.

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6. Bob Hope Airport – 23.07% Flights Delayed

Bob Hope Airport, serving the Greater Los Angeles area, faces challenges in maintaining timely flight schedules, affecting travelers’ itineraries.

7. Harry Reid International Airport – 22.87% Flights Delayed

Formerly known as McCarran International Airport, Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas contends with a notable portion of delayed flights, impacting passenger experiences.

8. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport – 22.84% Flights Delayed

Despite its strategic location, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport grapples with delays, particularly during adverse weather conditions.

9. Southwest Florida International Airport – 22.87% Flights Delayed

Southwest Florida International Airport, serving the Fort Myers area, faces challenges in ensuring timely departures and arrivals, affecting spring break travelers.

10. Orlando International Airport – 21.46% Flights Delayed

Orlando International Airport, a popular gateway to theme park attractions, experiences a notable percentage of delayed flights, potentially impacting travelers’ vacation plans.

Passengers in the terminal hall of an airport.
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The Best Airports for Hassle-Free Travel

While some airports present challenges, others shine in their ability to maintain efficient operations. Based on “flight disruptions” from airports with 1,000+ flights in February 2024, here are the Top 10.

The following airports boast impressive on-time performance, making them ideal choices for spring break travel:

1. Savannah/Hilton Head Airport – 90.17% Flights On Time

Savannah/Hilton Head Airport leads the pack with an outstanding on-time performance, ensuring smooth travel experiences for passengers.

2. McGhee Tyson Airport – 89.89% Flights On Time

McGhee Tyson Airport boasts a stellar record of on-time departures and arrivals, providing travelers with reliability and peace of mind.

3. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport – 89.07% Flights On Time

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport excels in punctuality, offering travelers a stress-free journey during the bustling spring break season.

4. Albany International Airport – 88.94% Flights On Time

Albany International Airport stands out for its exceptional on-time performance, making it a preferred choice for travelers seeking efficiency.

5. Memphis International Airport – 88.62% Flights On Time

Memphis International Airport delivers on-time departures and arrivals, ensuring seamless travel experiences for spring breakers.

Passengers in an airport departures hall.
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6. Gerald R. Ford International Airport – 88.51% Flights On Time

Gerald R. Ford International Airport prioritizes punctuality, providing travelers with reliable flight schedules and minimal disruptions.

7. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport – 87.94% Flights On Time

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport boasts a commendable on-time performance, enhancing the travel experience for passengers.

8. Greenville-Spartanburg Airport – 87.93% Flights On Time

Greenville-Spartanburg Airport maintains an impressive track record of on-time flights, offering travelers peace of mind during spring break travels.

9. Tulsa International Airport – 87.92% Flights On Time

Tulsa International Airport is known for its reliable flight schedules, ensuring timely departures and arrivals for passengers.

10. Washington Dulles International Airport – 87.39% Flights On Time

Washington Dulles International Airport prioritizes punctuality, providing travelers with efficient travel experiences during the bustling spring break season.

A passenger in an airport terminal watches an aircraft take off.
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Spring Break Travel: Tips and Recommendations

Spring break travel presents exciting opportunities for adventure and relaxation, but navigating crowded airports and potential disruptions can be daunting

The busy peak period will be between March 7 and March 25. This is according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which expects a 6% increase in travel volume this year compared to 2023.

Travelers can take proactive steps to mitigate potential disruptions and ensure smooth journeys:

  • Plan Ahead: Book flights and accommodations well in advance to secure preferred options and avoid last-minute hassles.
  • Stay Informed: Monitor flight statuses and weather forecasts regularly to stay updated on any potential disruptions.
  • Consider Alternatives: Explore alternative airports with better on-time performance to minimize travel-related stress.
  • Flexibility Is Key: Maintain flexibility in travel plans, allowing for adjustments in case of unforeseen circumstances.
  • Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance to provide coverage for flight cancellations, delays, or other unexpected events.

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With a travel surge expected over the busy Spring Break period, which are the 10 best and worst US airports with regards flight delays?
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