Some airports are going to be madhouses this spring break, study suggests

Photo (c) Azman L - Getty Images

And, don’t forget there are new rules regarding families traveling together and flights that are delayed or canceled

For the next few weeks, airports are going to be bustling with travelers trying to get to their spring break destinations, but AirHelp, an air passenger rights company, says that some airports aren’t equipped to handle the influx.

Based on its data of airports with the most flight disruptions in the month of February – AirHelp says it’s putting travelers on alert that they should be prepared to sit and wait at certain airports.

Going to Hawaii? Thru Dallas? Anywhere in Nevada?

At the top of the list of airports with the highest percentage of flight disruptions is Kahului Airport (OGG) in Mauiwhere 30.82% of flights were disrupted last month. 

The others in the Top 5 were:

  • Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO): 29.15% of flights disrupted;
  • Las Vegas' Harry Reid International Airport (LAS): 28.52% of flights disrupted;
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW): 28.51% of flights disrupted; and
  • Boston's Logan International Airport (BOS): 28.23% of flights disrupted.

When it comes to flight cancellations, anyone going through, to, or from Dallas might want to rethink their routing. Dallas had two airports in the top five for the highest percentage of canceled flights in February – Dallas Love Field (4.85%) and Dallas/Fort Worth International (4.6%). 

Students at the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus shouldn’t have any problems flying out, though. AirtHelp deemed McGhee Tyson Airport outside Knoxville worthy of the country's most reliable airport with over 85% of flights leaving on time in February.

One more ski trip, a flight to Florida?

Thinking about trying to sneak in one last ski trip? AirHelp analysts said that you’d be better off going through Salt Lake City International than Denver because it has fewer flights disrupted.

Flying to the sunny South? The analysts give the nod to Jacksonville and Tampa as Florida’s two best airports, both with under 18% of total flights disrupted. If you’re going to South Florida, however, patience will be necessary.

“If you’re heading to Miami, fly directly to Miami and avoid West Palm or Fort Lauderdale, which canceled a higher percentage of flights than Miami International,” the analysts said.

For reliable travel and warm weather, the best bet is Georgia because both Savannah/Hilton Head (84.15% of flights left on time) and Hartsfield Jackson in Atlanta have reliability of nearly 85% when it comes to flights leaving on time.

Should you fly stand-by if you think a flight departure is risky?

Flight cancellations and delays can domino like crazy! If your flight gets canceled, then you and the umpteen others on that flight will be rebooked on another flight, but that other flight also has people already on it so the airline has to figure out a way to fit both groups of fliers on the same flight. If there's more than one delay or cancelation, then that situation multiplies even further. 

Scott Keyes of suggests flying standby on an earlier flight if one’s available. Keyes told ConsumerAffairs that it’s pretty much a slam dunk if there's space on the flight, you already have a ticket for a flight, and you’re trying to get on an earlier one. 

The only thing that you’ll have to work out with the airline is if there’s space available in the same fare class as your already existing flight. It’s possible that if there’s a fare discrepancy you’ll have to pay extra to sit in Business or First, but that’s an airline-to-airline matter and one you’ll have to deal with and decide whether it’s worth the extra money in those situations. 

Revisiting new changes for families and delayed/canceled flights

Don’t forget – the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has made some changes to what airlines must do in cases where families are flying together and flights are either canceled or delayed.

To get current with what those changes are and what airlines are required to do and at what point, all you need to do is visit the DOT’s special travel dashboard available here.

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