Thanksgiving travel: Orlando, Miami lead list of worst airports to fly out of in U.S.

Thanksgiving travel: Orlando, Miami lead list of worst airports to fly out of in U.S.

Orlando International Airport is second-worst in the country to fly out of, analysis says


As millions of people load up to fly out of town for Thanksgiving — the Transportation Security Administration said it expects to screen more than 30 million passengers — data research site HubScore ranked the worst 100 airports to fly out of in 2023 based on an analysis of flight delays, cancellations, length of delays and security wait times.

According to the national Auto Club Group AAA, this Thanksgiving approximately 210,000 Floridians will fly for the holiday, about 6% more than last year and the second-highest air travel volume in 15 years, after 2019.

So it’s significant that three of the worst five airports in the country on the list were in Florida. (Florida also ranked highly in Forbes Advisor’s worst places for holiday travel, with Jacksonville coming in third.) It’s something to be aware of, considering the huge number of flight delays from storms, arctic blasts and software issues during last year’s holiday season.

The worst airport in the U.S. in HubScore’s ranking was Newark Liberty International in New Jersey, let’s get that one out of the way first. Over 50% of all their flights this year have been delayed (with an average wait time of 33.4 minutes), 8.5% of them were canceled (the most in the country), and you could expect to wait in line for your security check an average of 13.9 minutes. So at least we have them beat.

But out of the top 100 airports with the most flights in 2023, Florida was well… or possibly sadly … represented.

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Second worst airport to fly out of in the U.S.: Orlando International (MCO)

According to HubScore, OIA was a close second.

The Orlando airport ranked No. 3 in the U.S. for average flight delay time (34.2 minutes) and No. 4 for average security wait time (15.8 minutes). Over 55% of the flights out of Orlando were delayed, although only 2.7% of them were canceled. Orlando, the second-busiest airport in Florida, also set a record in 2022 for most firearms intercepted by the TSA (854), as long as we’re counting, but that wasn’t part of HubScore’s analysis.

This ranking came after OIA opened a new $2.8 billion terminal in September of 2022.

Orlando did better when you look at holiday cancellations in previous years, though, scoring No. 84 out of the top airports in the country with an average of 1% of flights canceled, according to a USA TODAY analysis of 2019-2020 holiday flight volume.

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Miami International (MIA) is third worst U.S. airport to fly out of, report says

Miami scored second worst in the country for average flight delay time (34.8 minutes) but scored marginally better in the other aspects.

Percentage of flights delayed: 50.8%. Percentage of flights canceled: 3.4%. Average security wait time: 13.2 minutes. Again, that’s for the year. Average holiday travel cancellations for 2019-2020 was 1.1%.

The Miami airport was in the news recently for a different flight delay: Donna Adelson, the 73-year-old mother of convicted murderer Charlie Adelson, was stopped there with her husband Harvey as they were about to board a flight with one-way tickets to extradition-proof Vietnam. She also was charged with murder and conspiracy to murder for the 2014 killing of her former son-in-law, FSU professor Dan Markel.

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Airport with worst flight delays: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL)

In HubScore’s rankings, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International was the worst airport in the country when it came to average flight delay time, leaving customers waiting for an average of 38.9 minutes.

They also were No. 4 for percentage of flights delayed, 60.2%. Otherwise, they scored better — or less worse — than the previous ones, with 3.2% of canceled flights and an average security wait time of 11.6 minutes.

The airport has added two new concourses and made major renovations to its existing terminals in the last few years, and in October Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood held a groundbreaking for the first new terminal in over 20 years, scheduled to open in 2026.

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Palm Beach International (PBI) is No. 13 in worst airports to fly out of list

After Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, there’s George Bush Intercontinental/Houston, Denver International, Washington Dulles International, Charlotte Douglas International, St Louis Lambert International, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International, John F. Kennedy International and Luis Munoz Marin International, we come to lucky 13, Palm Beach International.

Compared to the worst ones above, PBI seems almost pleasant. Less than 50% of the flights delayed (46.5%), 3% of the flights were canceled, an average flight delay time of 29.3 minutes, and an average security wait time of just 6.4 minutes.

Tampa International (TPA) is 18th worst airport to fly out of U.S., according to HubScore

Rounding out the rest of the worst 20 are Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall, Logan International, Philadelphia International, Buffalo Niagara International, and then Tampa International.

Tampa scored reasonably well in percentage of flights canceled (1.6%) in HubScore’s rankings, and the average security wait time was a not-horrible 9.7 minutes. But over 50% of their flights were delayed, with an average wait time of 24.2 minutes.

In the rest of the list of the worst airports to fly out of, Jacksonville International was No. 21, Southwest Florida was No. 42, Pensacola International was No. 54, Sarasota/Bradenton International was No. 61, and Eglin AFB Destin Fort Walton Beach was No. 79.

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