A recent trip by your correspondent confirmed (anecdotally) that there are a LOT of US domestic air travelers and the talk of “pent up demand” is no myth.  US airports are busy – very busy.  The difference from now to a year ago is amazing. It literally feels busier than 2019, but maybe the faded memory of crowded airports and flights just feels worse. That pandemic wasn’t all bad. Too soon?

If you are planning US air travel over the coming holiday period, here’s some guidance.  The following tables show the top 20 US airports by departure and arrival delays, in order of descending delays. Green is good and red is not so good.  The latest data is through July.  As you notice, as the year progressed, delays grew. It’s like the good old days again.  TSA regularly reports over 2m daily passengers and the system can handle about 2.5m daily. 

To provide perspective here are the same charts with averages from January 2016 through July 2021. Notice the numbers in the total columns and rows. You can see how 2021 is becoming the “same as it ever was”.

Two more charts to give you an idea of how much time you’re going to sit through the airport taxi process – taxi out for a departing flight and taxi in for arriving.  Again the 2021 numbers first and the average since 2016.

This is an air travel version of the Red Sea. 

We have a US air travel planner to help you optimize your travel time.  Your time isn’t free and that “15 minutes within the schedule is on-time” is spurious at best. try to catch the earliest flight you can, time-wise that’s the safest bet. Safe travels.


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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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