Travelers beware: Thanksgiving 2016 may be one for the birds. Schedules are disrupted across the nation, but in the “chicken or the egg” scenario of who’s to blame it’s sometimes hard to tell whether the airports or the airlines are more at fault for delayed and overbooked flights.
Most airports suffer delays during the week of Thanksgiving, mainly due to an explosion of the number of flights that arrive later than scheduled. Your chances of spending your time at the terminal dreaming of all the turkey legs to come are dependent on both the airline and the airports in which they frequent.
Still, while Thanksgiving travel probably won’t be particularly painless (sorry, all), you might feel better to know which airlines you can count on. Knowledge is power but knowing which airlines have the most delays during this frantic holiday season, right?
Delayed this holiday and wondering if you’re eligible for compensation? See if your flight fits the criteria
The airlines ranked for Thanksgiving delays – from worst to best
AirHelp evaluated data from Thanksgiving week between 2012 to 2015 in order to determine what your chances are of sitting at the airport long after you were supposed to depart.
Nearly one-third of Allegiant flights are delayed during Thanksgiving week, which means you have a one-in-three chance of being delayed if you choose them as your carrier. This terrible track record isn’t the only instance of the company letting down passengers – the icing on the cake are when its passengers must suffer through maintenance issues and a lack of staff.
Despite its overall on-time performance rating of 7.8 out of 10 in the AirHelp Score for the year, United doesn’t have the best reputation for punctuality during Thanksgiving week with nearly 23 percent of its flights delayed on average. As one of the U.S.’s largest airline carriers, one delayed flight can lead to a domino effect of delays, wreaking havoc on the itineraries of passengers across of the nation’s airports. Biggest past issues? Tarmac delays.
Travelers can anticipate having to wait on their flight if flying Frontier this Thanksgiving – nearly 20 percent of flights were delayed on average during the holiday. So, go ahead and add in some buffer time into your schedule just in case. To top it off, the airline disappointed many passengers as recently as September when they were left stranded on the tarmac and unable to deplane in Denver.
Flying into or out of Europe on a delayed flight? You could be eligible for compensation
Mechanical issues or technical issues? Computer woes that plagued Southwest earlier this year could fall under either category, both of which are covered under the law EC261, which states that you could get cash back if your flight is delayed when going into or out of the EU. That likelihood could be high considering Southwest’s 18 percent delay rate during the Thanksgiving rush. The worst part? Southwest has a pretty bad track record — technical difficulties canceled more than 221 flights throughout the U.S. in July, which doesn’t exactly spell on-time success for Thanksgiving.
Poor JetBlue. With its delay rate of 16.6 percent, the airline tends to run into plenty of issues on an operational level. Of course, these issues have to happen during the holidays, or right after them, including a massive power outage that took down their website and prohibited passengers from checking in. While these slip ups can make for a long and exhausting ride back to family and friends during the Thanksgiving holiday, you could be eligible for cash back for your troubles. Not all delays are within their circle of influence, however – frigid temperatures can also hamper their on-time performance.
As the world’s largest airline, there will be hiccups. But perhaps it’s time American Airlines reconsiders its operations if 15 percent of its flights are delayed or otherwise disrupted during Thanksgiving week. Overall, its on-time performance is pretty good – ranking 7.5 out of 10 in the AirHelp Score. Still, Americans don’t necessarily love their namesake airline for its quality and service, either. AA passenger complaints persist throughout the year, namely for its perceived inability to provide safe aircrafts for travelers.
Alaska Airlines has grown massively during the past few years, but with great growth comes great expectations. In fact, there have been numerous speed bumps along the way, including 13.3 percent of airplanes arriving later than scheduled during Thanksgiving week. However, some Alaska flight delays are welcome, like taking a moment to capture the solar eclipse and give passengers the view of a lifetime.
In the past, Delta has had to cancel flights on very short notice, but the good news is that it is less likely to happen on the days before and after Thanksgiving. Its flights have been delayed 11.8 percent of the time on average, so the chances are good that you’ll be able to make it home for that second slice of pumpkin pie.
Not only is Virgin within the top two U.S. airlines in terms of punctuality with only 11.4 percent of flights delayed during Thanksgiving, the airline is looking to take its quality service one step further. Its recently introduced a new flight tracker that also lets its passengers know if they are entitled to a claim in the event that they’re one of the few who must suffer through the “nightmare delays” (33 hours), that could occur.
Could it be the sunny weather and pleasant dispositions of the Hawaiian people that contribute to the fact that only 4.5 percent of Hawaiian Airlines flights are delayed during the busy holiday? They aren’t just punctual during Thanksgiving, however. Travel + Leisure gave Hawaiian an on-time performance rate of 93 percent overall in 2013. That’s a reason to say aloha to booking with Hawaiian.