With Memorial Day behind us, the busy summer travel season has officially begun - with TSA airport volumes already exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
In the wake of thousands of flights being delayed across the U.S. last week, many travelers are asking, should we expect another hectic summer of travel?
In a word, yes. In its new Summer Disruption Outlook, the experts behind travel app Hopper dug into all the TSA data from last summer to come up with a ranking of the U.S. airports expected to be the worst. Plus, the Hopper analysts offered ConsumerAffairs readers some free advice for anyone who’s taking to the skies and possibly flying out of or going to one of these airports.
The worst airports in the U.S. are the ones you’d expect them to be just because they’re hubs for major airlines, such as Chicago where American and United route a lot of their traffic.
Worst U.S. Airports for Summer Travel
Chicago (MDW) - 44% of flights disrupted during summer 2022
Baltimore (BDWI) - 39% of flights disrupted during summer 2022
Newark (EWR) - 37% of flights disrupted during summer 2022
Dallas (DAL) - 35% of flights disrupted during summer 2022
New York City (JFK) - 34% of flights disrupted during summer 2022
You could probably close your eyes and guess the busiest airport in the U.S. You know, the one where nearly 100 million people travel through this year? The big Delta hub? Yep, Atlanta.
Busiest U.S. Airports for Summer Travel
Atlanta (ATL) - 26% of flights disrupted during summer 2022
Chicago (ORD) - 25% of flights disrupted during summer 2022
Dallas (DFW) - 28% of flights disrupted during summer 2022
Denver (DEN) - 30% of flights disrupted during summer 2022
Los Angeles (LAX) - 24% of flights disrupted during summer 2022
Taking care of the investment in your flight plans
Travelers to Europe this summer will want to make sure they get the most out of their money with airfares up 26% from 2019. These top tips from Hopper's experts will hopefully help you travel smoothly this summer:
Add travel protection. There are a few ways to go about this. Some credit card companies offer travel protection so check with the one you used to buy your ticket. Then, there are companies such as Hopper that offer protection such as Flight Disruption Guarantee, which allows you to rebook a new flight immediately on any carrier, if your flight is delayed, canceled or you miss a connection. Thirdly, if you’re price shopping, there are other worthy travel insurers, but it’s important to ask them if they offer that specific type of coverage.
Take the first flight of the day. Getting out of bed at 5 a.m. isn’t any fun, but it might pay off if a storm rolls into town or there’s a domino of disruptions over a certain airline’s route. Flights departing after 9 am are two times more likely to be delayed than those departing between 5-8 am.
Don't leave it up to chance. Build in a buffer day! It's always better to be safe by adding an extra day to your trip, especially for big events or major trips. Should any delays or disruptions interfere with your travel plans, then you'll have some breathing room.
Make sure you sign up for alerts and check flight status before you leave for the airport. Things happen quickly in the airline world. Pilots don’t show up, bad weather causes delays and cancellations, all types of things that can drag a trip down.
You'll want to be aware of delays and cancellations as soon as possible so sign up for whatever the airline you’re flying on offers: the option of receiving text, email, or in-app notifications about changes to their itinerary, including delays and cancellations. If your trip is delayed or canceled, know what options you have, including other flights heading to your destination.
Whatever you do…
The airline industry is a royal mess right now and the pressure of summer travel is only going to complicate things further. No matter where you’re going, it’s important to know what’s going on so if you run into a problem you know what to do and these two websites will do the trick.
The Department of Transportation’s Airline Customer Service Dashboard. If something goes wrong, you’ll be able to quickly find what the airlines are supposed to be doing to take care of you and the situation as well as who’s committed to doing what they’re supposed to do and the laggards.
The other is FlightAware.com. This site is ConsumerAffairs’ go-to for things like delays and cancellations and within a matter of seconds, anyone can find out where their flight is, what flights are canceled, which ones are delayed, what airports are having issues, and something called a “Misery Map” that isolates each airport and shows what routes are experiencing problems.