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Airport Ranking: flight delays and cancellations at United States airports

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  • AirHelp analyzes delayed and canceled flights at United States airports in 2017
  • More than 27% of flights were disrupted at Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, and at San Francisco International Airport
  • Air passengers in the United States are entitled to financial compensation of more than $451 million for disrupted flights eligible under EC 261

NEW YORK, March 13, 2018 — In 2017, more than 2,200 departing flights to the EU were disrupted at the 10 largest United States airports. But which U.S. airport had the most flight delays and cancellations? AirHelp, the world’s leading flight compensation company, analyzed air traffic for the 10 biggest United States airports in 2017, and found that most flight disruptions occurred at Newark Liberty International Airport, and the least occurred at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Many flights have also been delayed or canceled at John F. Kennedy International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport.

Newark Liberty International Airport: 29.7% of all flights departed irregularly

Out of all flights departing from Newark Liberty International Airport in 2017, more than 29% were disrupted. According to this result, the airport presented the worst on-time performance of the 10 biggest United States airports. Also, at John F. Kennedy International Airport and San Francisco International Airport, more than 27% of all flights showed flight problems.

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport: Best performing airport

George Bush Intercontinental Airport showed the best on-time performance of the 10 biggest airports, with over 81% of all flights departing as scheduled. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Denver International Airport also presented good results in terms of on-time performance in 2017, as more than 80% of all flights departed without any disruptions.

Compensation for flight disruptions under EC 261: $451 million for United States passengers

Canceled or delayed flights may entitle each passenger to receive compensation of up to $700 under European law EC 261, which covers U.S. travelers on flights to the EU on EU airlines, and flights departing from the EU. Under EC 261, United States air travelers are owed approximately $451 million for flight disruptions experienced at U.S. airports in 2017. When a flight is delayed, eligibility for compensation depends on the distance of the flight, the actual arrival time at the destination airport, and the reason for the disruption, as flights disrupted due to extraordinary circumstances, like severe weather or political unrest, are not eligible. Affected passengers may claim their compensation up to three years ago from their disrupted flights.

Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp, comments on the findings:

“All in all, the analyzed airports showed poor results in terms of on-time-performance for the whole year of 2017. There might be unforeseeable factors like bad weather, especially in Autumn and Winter when airports are struggling more with tougher weather conditions than in Spring or Summer. Nevertheless, if you are affected by flight delays or cancellations, we strongly encourage you to check whether you are entitled to compensation from the responsible airline. Overall, passengers in the United States have been entitled to receive compensation of $451 million in 2017. At Airhelp, we help passengers enforce their rights and, if necessary, will defend them in court.”

Check your eligibility even still at the gate

The AirHelp app allows passengers to check on the spot whether their flight entitles them for financial compensation. Travelers just need to scan the boarding pass with the app’s integrated boarding pass scanner tool. Passengers are also offered to directly claim their owed compensation, getting rid of all the hassle of filing for compensation while AirHelp defends their rights. The AirHelp app is available free of charge in the Google Play Store and the App Store.


Airport All flights Delayed flights* Canceled flights Disrupted flights** (in %) Total EC 261

Eligible Flights***


(in USD)****

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) 215,000 33,000 6,000 18.23% 100 $13,000,000
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) 428,000 72,000 6,200 18.35% 100 $12,000,000
Denver International Airport (DEN) 275,000 51,000 1,800 19.69% 30 $2,800,000
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) 311,000 62,000 3,800 21.59% 60 $6,000,000
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) 259,000 51,000 4,200 21.60% 30 $3,000,000
O’Hare International Airport (ORD) 418,000 85,000 6,300 22.20% 270 $30,000,000
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) 319,000 72,000 2,700 24.37% 180 $24,000,000
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) 214,000 54,000 3,400 27.22% 90 $12,000,000
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) 215,000 53,000 4,900 27.76% 1,020 $160,000,000
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) 205,000 54,000 6,600 29.71% 350 $37,000,000

Table 1: Flight delays and cancellations at the United States’ biggest airports (01.01.2017-12.31.2017)

*delays of min. 15 minutes

** total of delayed and canceled flights

*** total departing delayed and canceled flights eligible for compensation under EC 261

****approx. amount based on average EU load factor of aircraft from EC 261 eligible flights

About AirHelp

Since launching in 2013, AirHelp has helped more than five million people process airline compensation claims worth almost 300 million euros in total reimbursement. AirHelp has offices across the world, is available in 30 countries, offers support in 16 languages, and employs more than 500 employees globally.