The Ultimate Avoid List: The 20 Most Delayed Planes in America

These are the 20 most delayed planes in America. If your flight is scheduled to be on one of these, maybe you should reconsider your plans.

Enilria pulled Department of Transportation data to discover which planes are most delayed. It may be that the planes are scheduled on routes with the worst weather, that they have the worst luck with crew delays, or that they go mechanical most often. For whatever reason, in 2023, these were the most cursed if you were traveling on them.

Running the numbers, they get credit against delays for when they’re early – so delays are net delays.

Fascinatingly, nine of the twenty worse planes in America belong to Frontier Airlines – and six were American Airlines planes, concentrated on their antiquated Airbus A320 fleet. No other airline had more than one on the list, and only one of the twenty planes were regional jets.

American Airlines Airbus A319

American was the third most on-time airline in 2023 but its Airbus A320s have some of the biggest delays. Frontier was one of the worst at one-time performance, but while it had the most planes delaying the longest it performed better overall than JetBlue.

Rank Airline Tail # Aircraft Age Minutes Delayed Avg Delay
20 JetBlue N3085J A220 3 32,575 29
19 American N8001N A319 10 32,792 32
18 Hawaiian N490HA Boeing 717 15 32,812 12
17 Frontier N304FR A320 7 32,863 23
16 Frontier N708FR A321 8 32,893 27
15 Frontier N709FR A321 7 32,957 26
14 American N104UW A320 23 32,963 21
13 American N111US A320 23 33,033 32
12 American N653AW A320 23 33,143 20
11 Frontier N610FR A321 1 33,251 26
10 Frontier N339FR A320 5 33,458 22
9 Allegiant 287NV A320 3 33,559 38
8 American N822AW A319 23 33,843 26
7 Frontier N361FR A320 3 33,932 23
6 Frontier N303FR A320 7 34,470 25
5 Frontier N307FR A320 7 34,832 24
4 American N665AW A320 22 35,422 26
3 United (Mesa) N241LR CR9 9 35,493 28
2 Spirit N665NK A321 7 35,949 28
1 Frontier N392FR A320 2 36,056 24

The oldest planes facing major delays are from American Airlines (mostly legacy America West birds) while there are even some really young – practically new! – aircraft on this list, too.

You can see the specific aircraft (tail number, or registration) that you’ll be flying on websites like FlightRadar24 and FlightAware in the days leading up to your trip. If you’ve got one of these planes scheduled for your trip, maybe prepare a backup plan?

And if you’re flying Frontier, which has one of the worst on-time performances as an airline and the most planes that are individually delayed, maybe it’s a good reason to pay up for their new intra-Europe style business class seats for a bit of extra comfort during your delay.

Enilria has also run the data on most cancelled flights.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s definitely interesting to see how many Airbus planes are on this list. Boeing should make a little moment out of it.

  2. Interesting article, but I’m not sure how actionable the intelligence really is, since even looking on Flightradar24 (which I do) ‘planes aren’t assigned until a few days before a flight, and even then, dispatch can and do switch them at short notice.
    Only three of the aircraft listed had average delays of more than 30mins, and even then it was a close-run thing. Now, if you are @Gary who, as I recall, likes to keep his connections short, then this is a problem. For those of us who plan a little more conservatively, a less than 30 minute delay is manageable.
    Of greater utility would the twenty most canceled fights in America???

  3. As usual, Gary can’t read or chooses to manipulate data – which is exactly what the case in saying this is about Airbus vs. Boeing.

    Frontier’s ontime according to the US DOT was 10th place out of 10 airlines in 2023.

    Delta is the largest Airbus operator in the world – which is part of why they are watching Boeing’s meltdown from a distance – and not a single Delta flight is on that last.
    American is the 2nd largest Airbus operator.

    Delta also happens to be in the first place position in on-time in 2023 at 83.5% of flights on-time.
    American was #3 but there was a 4 point gap between DL and AA’s ontime

    There was a staggering 15 point gap between DL and F9’s ontime.

    Gary and enrilia make quite a team at throwing up incomplete and meaningless data and drawing stupid conclusions.

  4. It is difficult to predict exactly which aircraft will operate a specific flight. The size of an airline fleet will drive aircraft changes, and there can be numerous plane changes within a single day. These changes can occur due to various reasons, such as delayed inbound flights, inbound aircraft being diverted to another station or maintenance issues. Therefore, you can only be 99% sure which aircraft will be operating the route when you’re at the gate and ready to board. It’s almost impossible to know beforehand, and a crystal ball would be necessary to make accurate predictions.

  5. What’s 30 minutes? That doesn’t bother me and won’t make me cancel or rebook. It seems rather common for carriers to have this happen. If it’s hours of delay, then I’m concerned.

  6. @Tim Dunn – odd, what conclusion do you think I’ve drawn, where do I say “this is about Airbus vs. Boeing”

    You have an odd way of misreading things, I have to assume it’s intentional.

  7. If the list only contained mechanical delays, it would be more meaningful. However, including weather, crew or lousy management makes this list pretty useless

  8. Not sure tail is an accurate measurement of a delay ONLY when it’s due to mechanical. Additionally amour of flight an aircraft will operate will affect how many delays it has so need to adjust the data to that

  9. Interesting yes. Meaningful information i think not. Delays are multifactorial without knowing the routes and airports these planes fly it is easy to
    Blame The airline and manufactures without considering the airports routes number of take offs and landings And weather conditions a glaring fact of the useless of drawing conclusions is That there are no Wide body Jets since they have fewer Flights and therefor less Delays which only occer at take offs
    And landings. Not that i am defending any of the airlines but just that we should be clear what this data represents

  10. Really surprised one or two of Delta’s 717s aren’t on the list. 4 out of my last 10 flights have been delayed or cancelled. 3 of them (1 cancellation and 2 delays were 717s. The other one was a CRapJet. Of course we don’t know the reason for the delays, since the airlines usually lie or just withhold the info.

  11. Gary,
    you said
    “Fascinatingly, nine of the twenty worse planes in America belong to Frontier Airlines – and six were American Airlines planes, concentrated on their antiquated Airbus A320 fleet.”

    there is no correlation to aircraft age or manufacturer.

    Frontier is late because that is what they do.

    American has lengthy delays because they don’t cancel flights any more – copying Delta’s move – so have lengthy delays instead.

  12. @Tim Dunn – correct, nowhere did I make it Airbus v Boeing, I noted that American’s particular fleet of deplorable A320s shows up most in this list.

    “American has lengthy delays because they don’t cancel flights any more – copying Delta’s move – so have lengthy delays instead.”

    This list features mostly one small fleet type operated by the airline. Your explanation makes no sense.

  13. Bla bla bla. Delta this and bla bla bla, Delta that. Delta is the world’s greatest from the resident Delta Propaganda Bot.

  14. Larry,
    you got data for that?

    The DOT publishes on-time data. Delta just happens to be at the top of the list.

    you are correct that you didn’t try to make this A vs B. You mentioned AA’s older Airbuses but it was indeed other people that tried to argue that Airbus aircraft are problematic when the data doesn’t show that.
    Sorry for trying to pin your reader’s arguments on you.

  15. Can someone make an executive decision regarding Tim’s participation please that adds little value except for thumb exercise? It’s like I read a different article and comments. No where was there any Boing v Airbus. Furthermore Gary made clear that there’s host of reasons. Causality was never part of this just a data dump of most delayed planes and the operator nothing more nothing less. And no comments were terribly out of line other than TD.

    We are over it Tim GET LOST. Apologies if I mis state something but my thumb got over exercised scrolling past TD comments.

  16. AA just ordered a bunch of Boeing aircraft. I’m sure they got a great deal! That should help them out, along with trying to take down the competition. They have the new pilots contract to pay, that cost millions in raises, bonuses and retro pay. As far as delays, I just worked an international flight where we had to wait for our captain. The scheduled departure was 705pm, we finally left after 9pm. It was known at 2pm he would be late. Why they chose to inconvenience the 270ish passengers and rest of crew and wait, instead of calling another captain is mind boggling. The captain was on Reserve and should have been at base, not home in another state. I guess he couldn’t afford a hotel room or crash pad.
    But, they have many “priveliges” in their contract. One of the other pilots mentioned that they may of gotten another captain if the offered “premium” pay. I guess the millions in the new contract wasn’t enough. SMH.

  17. Recently, airlines are pushing that the 1st flight of the day depart on time to avoid a knock on effect as the day progresses. If FlightRadar24 or FlightAware wanted to up their game, they would have a webpage of which airlines have delayed 1st flights of the day in minutes. Would reflect on the airlines performance for the remainder of the day.

  18. WHAT ABOUT THEIR FLIGHT NUMBERS, GARY? We have no idea of destinations, so how can we avoid these?

  19. To Tim Dunn, et al,

    The principal reason Delta is “always on time,” is because they push back before all passengers are onboard.

    YUP, you heard it right! A few years back, I flew into MSP with a 35 minute connection causing me to literally, RUN from terminal to terminal, to get to my gate on time.

    Arriving at outbound gate with 8 minutes to spare, I handed my boarding pass to the gate agent, who told me, “You’re on a later flight!” “NO, I said, I’m on THIS FLIGHT.” She then told me, “The door is closed, and we put you on the later flight.”

    So, SIX HOURS LATER, I boarded my flight, while the CEO , along with the executive VP, with whom I was to meet prior to a company wide dinner event, were more pissed off than I. (Lost the job, too.)

    ONLY DELTA has screwed my this way – and on two occasions – and I won”t willingly purchase a ticket from them again. F*** Delta.

  20. except you didn’t just scroll past, did you, mr. mocker?

    and having a heavily sourced Airbus fleet right now seems like one of the best decisions any airline has made.

    DL has MAXs on order – like AA – but has the luxury of waiting for Boeing to get its act together unlike heavily Boeing supplied airlines whose business plans continue to go up in smoke every time news comes out of Seattle, Charleston, or Washington DC

  21. I’ll worry about flying on an Airbus when they start suddenly diving into the ground like Boeing planes, or have doors blow out because bolts weren’t fastened or installed.

  22. Who the heck is this Tim Dunn guy anyway?
    Gotta hand it to him…he’s got top-notch trolling skills.
    Must be on the DL payroll. Apparently, Delta can do no wrong. It’s pure arrogance.

    Delta isn’t even mentioned in this article, yet fanboy Tim still attempts to make the comments all about Delta. It’s just tedious and dull at this point.
    Bring on the attempt at a sarcastic rebuke…

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