News / City Life

9 of 10 most delayed flight routes in U.S. go through Chicago

9 of 10 most delayed flight routes in U.S. go through Chicago
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Anyone who's traveled through Chicago's O'Hare International Airport knows that the transportation hub might as well be synonymous with "delay." According to new Bureau of Transportation data compiled by the Wall Street Journal, nine out of the country's 10 most delayed flight routes in 2014 either started or ended at O'Hare. The most delayed route on the list was O'Hare to Knoxville, Tennessee's McGhee Tyson Airport, with more than 44 percent of the flights failing to arrive on time. The only route in the top 10 that didn't go through O'Hare was between Denver and Aspen, Colorado, which was presumably a result of bad and erratic weather in the Rocky Mountains.  

While Chicago's weather can be pretty horrendous, it certainly isn't the only cause for the surge of delays at O'Hare. Because of its central location and size, O'Hare acts as a hub for connecting flights, many of which are scheduled in the afternoon. A delay into or out of Chicago in the morning can gunk up the entire day's schedule, especially for flights to smaller markets.

The data suggests that flights from Chicago to small Southern and Midwestern cities receive less of a priority than those to major cities. More than 40 percent of the flights from O'Hare to Wichita were delayed last year. The same applies to flights from O'Hare to Birmingham, Lansing, Colorado Springs and Oklahoma City.

Flights from Washington Dulles International Airport to New York's LaGuardia Airport were late nearly 40 percent of the time, which puts it at the 33rd most delayed route, and the most delayed route among flights in or out of New York City. Routes involving LAX don't even crack the top 100 in terms of delays.

Point being, if you're flying out of O'Hare to a city with a population of less than 500,000 people, you should probably expect a delay.

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