These are the 20 Airports With the Greatest Likelihood of Cancelling Flights

These 20 airports had the highest percentage of cancelled flights in 2018.

  1. New York LaGuardia
  2. Norfolk, Virginia
  3. Charleston, South Carolina
  4. Rochester, New York
  5. Newark
  6. Providence, Rhode Island
  7. Washington National
  8. Richmond
  9. Raleigh Durham
  10. Buffalo
  11. Charlotte
  12. New York JFK
  13. Boston
  14. Hartford
  15. Chicago Midway
  16. Grand Rapids
  17. Chicago O’Hare
  18. Baltimore
  19. Cleveland

Message: avoid the congested Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Chicago … especially in winter and late in summer evenings.

Avoid regional jets when you can because when operations at an airport slow down they’re more likely to get cancelled — smaller jets carrying fewer people also inconvenience fewer people. Regional aircraft may also have a more limited operating window than larger planes that can, for instance, fly in greater winds. At the same time a non-stop regional jet may give you better odds than mainline connecting flights — where two flights have to go right rather than just one.

You want to fly in the morning when you can. Flights later in the day are affected by each of the segments an aircraft has flown that day and delays stack up. When something goes wrong to delay a flight, usually subsequent flights with the same plane will be delayed too. At the end of the day crew may also be running out of allowable duty time.

And bring patience and plenty of backup planning because things inevitably do go wrong, whether because of weather or technical snafus. Find your own alternate flights (with availability that changes constantly). If the first airline agent doesn’t give you help try someone else. And if you can’t get through on the phone, try a foreign call center.

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. @Andrew: That had me as well – PHL is my home airport and after seeing the list reacted with “I thought my airport was bad but it’s not even in the top 20!”

  2. Yes, the original listing shows PHL @ #5….


    @Bobby Crandall —> SFO ranks #40 on the list. Fog is seasonal, FWIW, and while I certainly have had my share of *delayed* flights in/out of SFO due to ground stops or reduced capacity, in my 450+ departures and arrivals @SFO, I have NEVER had a flight cancelled — and the article is about flight cancellations, NOT delays.


  3. Let’s face it, certain airports will always have poor flight cancellation records, such as flying into or out of ORD or BOS in the middle of the winter. Most flight cancellation % can be looked up online prior to booking. A more meaningful indicator of whether a flight will ever depart the airport may be which airline you’ve booked a flight with in the first place.

    I recall looking at the flight departures screens a few years ago in HNL, and seeing that every single flight on MW was delayed or cancelled. Not a good sign for you if you were booked on an MW flight that day…

  4. A nasty cancellation culprit at Hartford is the Air Canada Dash 8 Toronto flight, three times daily, cancelled about 20% of the time. I notice that one on the status screens in red all the time. Smaller airport results can get skewed by these little laggards, perhaps that’s why you don’t see peoples’ favorite: PHL.

  5. One word for these airports. SNOW. Providence is not a hub, never has plane problems and is not congested . cancellation are from planes coming into the airport not going out. Snow and hurricanes screw flights into the airport from other airports

  6. Also kind of surprised not to see SFO on the list, though I suspect the list would look different if the metric was delays not cancellation. We don’t have snow at SFO or other weather that completely shuts everything down.

    For trip planning purposes would be more useful to get a summer/winter breakdown. For example I would expect the Southern airports are more likely to experience cancellations from summer t-storms and hurricanes…

  7. SBA especially to/from SFO, mornings especially or anytime… GOOD LUCK!!! Reason for last minute cancel? Too many planes/traffic in/around SFO.

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