The worst U.S. airports for flight delays

San Francisco Airport gets raves for its art museum, restaurants, and a Zen Room stocked with yoga mats. But SFO airport is among the worst three U.S. airports for flight delays, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). Your odds of a delay—defined as a flight leaving more than 15 minutes behind schedule—average about 20 percent.

To be fair, SFO has actually improved since last year—just like most of the 29 airports on the BTS report card for the past 12 months, ending in July 2012. But the airports may not be able to take much credit: some analyses attribute the overall uptick in on-time departures to mild weather and fewer planes flying. For the late departures that persist, the airlines can be blamed about 28 percent of thetime.

Find out at which airports your flight is most likely to get delayed—and which times of day are worst for takeoff.

(Photo: Songquan Deng / Alamy)No. 1 Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Flights Delayed: 23.83%

Apparently, the New Jersey airport missed the memo that this was a year to improve on-time departures. Unlike most other U.S. airports, it fell by three percentage points in performance and skidded down to No. 1 worst airport (from its No. 7 tie last year). By 7 p.m., your chance of a delay here reaches the 40 percent mark. Your best chance is to fly out before 7 a.m.

Best Time Window: Before 7 a.m.
Worst Time Window: 1–11 p.m.

(Photo: Ian Shaw / Alamy)No. 2 San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Flights Delayed: 21.78%

How much slack can you cut an airport just for fog? SFO has been in the bottom 10 since 2008, and keeps inching closer to the No. 1 worst spot. Perhaps due to that poor visibility, it has the earliest start time for the period in which delays rise above 20 percent: a depressing 10 a.m. Your best strategy here is to leave really early.

Best Time Window:
Before 8 a.m.
Worst Time Window: 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

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