America's most stressful airports

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
America's most stressful airports
Hassle-free holiday travel depends on which places you fly in and out of
By Lauren Sherman
Forbes
updated 9:17 a.m. MT, Wed., Dec. 10, 2008
If you're one of the millions of people planning to board a plane during the holiday season, rest well knowing that — in terms of flight delays — this year is predicted to be much less stressful than last year.

That's mostly due to the large decrease in flights for the tail end of 2008. Also, fewer people are flying during the holidays this year, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), an organization of independent clubs that provides travel services to consumers.

That's all good news. Unfortunately, flights are more likely to be full.

That means in a region like the Northeast, where air traffic is heavy and major airports lack sophisticated facilities — they're in need of renovations and often lack the space to accommodate all the passengers they receive — planes are more likely to be 100 percent full or overbooked, says Seth Kaplan, managing partner at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based industry trade publication Airline Weekly.

The problem is the same year-round, just exacerbated over the holidays. Because of the high volume of flights and other aforementioned problems, it's no surprise that Philadelphia International, John F. Kennedy International, Newark International and LaGuardia International are four of the five airports with the worst record of flight delays. Chicago O'Hare, the only Midwest airport in the top five, tied for the second spot with JFK.

Behind the numbers
To rank America's most stressful airports, we looked at the percentage of on-time arrivals and the percentage of on-time departures at 32 of the country's major airports for the period of September 2007 to September 2008. We then ranked them from worst to best in terms of punctuality. All data were provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation in its November 2008 "Air Travel Consumer Report."

Only reportable airports were included in the Department of Transportation's analysis. Reportable airports include those that account for at least 1 percent of the nation's total domestic scheduled-service passenger enplanements, which is 6.51 million passengers annually.

In Philadelphia, which ranked at No. 1, 28.1 percent of arrivals clocked in late, while 20.2 percent of departures took off after they should have. The city's main air hub has a bevy of problems, from old, small facilities to overcrowding.

"The biggest factor is airspace," says Kaplan. He says air routes are a lot like highways: they're usually busy. And New York's and Philadelphia's are the busiest.

But redesigning airspace is a task the government hasn't yet been willing to take on, due to excessive red tape. Redesigning airspaces entails adding on more routes where flights can travel and determining at what altitudes they can fly. That's all controlled by the government and has a lot to do with national security — thus the slow change. An alternative option for airports like Philadelphia, says Kaplan, is to build a newer, bigger runway and more gates.

"Upgrading the facility will create significant improvements," he says. Most recently, Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in North Carolina has attempted to reduce delays by building a third runway, which is set to open in 2010.

Less stress out west
It's understandable why airports like JFK and O'Hare have problems; they're major hubs. But why does Los Angeles International Airport — better known as LAX — report on-time arrival numbers 10 to 15 percent higher than those represented in the top five, despite the fact that it's just as busy, receiving 62 million passengers in 2007? JFK only saw 48 million passengers travel through that same year, according to Geneva-based trade group Airports Council International.

Again, it's about space, says Kaplan. LAX occupies 3,500 acres, which means more runways, more gates and more room overall. Logan International Airport in Boston, by contrast, is just 2,384 acres — and its percentage of delays is higher. At Logan, arrivals were delayed 20 percent of the time; for departures, it was 14.6 percent.

Of course, there is the argument that it's not the airport one should point a finger at, but the seemingly incompetent airlines.

Unfortunately, when it comes to arrival- and departure-time stress, the accusation doesn't quite, ahem, fly. Sure, special circumstances, such as Feb. 14, 2007's legendary JetBlue backup at JFK — in which travelers spent hours, sometimes days, waiting to board a flight — take place. But in general, the stress over arriving or departing on time has more to do with the airport than the airline.

"Those are very exceptional events," Kaplan says of the JetBlue incident. "It's the everyday delays — inefficiency in the overall system — that are more of a concern."

© 2008 Forbes.com
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28035981/


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norcalpilot25

Well-Known Member
They didn't even mention weather as a factor..... Experts indeed! Yeah LAX is big but its also on the West Coast. How many De-Ice delays do you get at LAX? None. And changing airspace is a security risk? Unless they are talking about the ADIZ I dont see how it is. Media misinformation. :(
 

Nick

Well-Known Member
They didn't even mention weather as a factor..... Experts indeed! Yeah LAX is big but its also on the West Coast. How many De-Ice delays do you get at LAX? None. And changing airspace is a security risk? Unless they are talking about the ADIZ I dont see how it is. Media misinformation. :(
Well they didn't necessarily say that the worst airports were like that just due to the airports themselves, either though.

But you are correct; the northeast US airports would still get pummeled with snow a few times per season even if they were built off the Jersey/Long Island shore like Osaka Kansai or Nagoya Chubu Centrair with as much space as they need.

Which is why I'm ready to get out, again. :)
 
R

Roger, Roger

Guest
Haha, yeah...I've only been in there twice and I think those were slow days, but it was still nuts! Though, coming from slow-as-molasses Longview, that probably doesn't mean much.
 

VATechPilot

Well-Known Member
I gonna take a stab at it and say most think DEN is the least stressful major airport for pax and crew??
 

SpiraMirabilis

Possible Subversive
GKY wasn't that bad. Just had to watch out for those Delta Qualiflight kamikazes. Probably has changed since I've been there though.
 

Firebird2XC

Well-Known Member
DFW's up there for low-stress. Barring the occasional thunderstorms rolling by, not much phases DFW.

Life is very chill here.

Flying in the NY area was fun, but all the time? Forget it. Same with Chicago. Who needs the stress?
 

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
They got it spot on with PHL at #1. I'm not too fond of that place.

PHL and ORD are on their own special level for stress. I'd throw EWR in there too if it wasn't an airport I operate out of so regularly.
 

SFCC/UND

Well-Known Member
Atlanta, it's like a maze trying to get through security. Lucky I worked for an airline, I got to bypass to the front.
 

bdhill1979

Gone West
VGT for my vote

Last time I went there I was cleared to land on three different runways within the span of about 60 seconds, then when finally landing on the runway had a Twin Otter almost land on top of me.

Now every time I go to Vegas (like today) I go to HND
 

KLB

Well-Known Member
I found flying in and out of LAS a lot less intense than VGT. VGT is not layed out very well for the amount of traffic that goes into there.
 

Matt13C

Well-Known Member
Why is PHL so bad? I hope to be based there if I ever move into commercial flying so I do not have to move. App/Dep control always is helpful, I have never landed there though.
 

WestIndian425

Well-Known Member
Even though LAX has other tertiary airports (SNA, BUR, etc), it still doesn't amount to LGA/JFK/EWR combined. As stressing as the NYC area airports are, it's really because it's the busiest airspace in the country.

That being said, I'm always on my "p's and q's" when I fly into ORD, CLT, and ATL (on a bad day).

I think that article is more for passengers...wonder what the list would be like for pilots? :)
 

jtrain609

Uniting the black vote.
I found flying in and out of LAS a lot less intense than VGT. VGT is not layed out very well for the amount of traffic that goes into there.
And it doesn't help that the VGT controllers have downs syndrome. One day I was trying to get my clearance from VGT back to BUR and had this conversation with them:

"Ahhh....Vegas clearance Amflight 126 we've got alpha, we'd like to pick up our clearance to Burbank if you've got it."

"It's North Las Vegas Clearance"

*silence*

*silence*

*silence*

"NORTH LAS VEGAS CLEARANCE, Amflight 126, we've got alpha, we'd like to pick up our clearance to Burbank if you've got it."

"Yup, it's right here, you're cleared to..."

Then 5 minutes later, I'm holding short...

"NORTH LAS VEGAS TOWER Amflight 126 holding short ready to go."

"Amflight 2340 you're cleared for takeoff."

"Is that for Amflight 126?"

"Yes sir, just wanted to make sure you were paying attention."

"Confirm sir, Amflight 126 is cleared for takeoff?"

"Didn't I just clear you for takeoff?"

I couldn't stand those guys.

Also, Newark is cake. It's one of the easiest airports in the world to operate out of. Sure the delays are frustrating, but once you figure out what's happening it's real simple. I think Atlanta is a heck of a lot more complicated than Newark.
 

jtrain609

Uniting the black vote.
Even though LAX has other tertiary airports (SNA, BUR, etc), it still doesn't amount to LGA/JFK/EWR combined. As stressing as the NYC area airports are, it's really because it's the busiest airspace in the country.

That being said, I'm always on my "p's and q's" when I fly into ORD, CLT, and ATL (on a bad day).

I think that article is more for passengers...wonder what the list would be like for pilots? :)
Naw, Socal has nothing on New York's airspace. The LA area is actually setup incredibly well for how many airports they have out there. Burbank and Van Nuys are kind of a pain to deal with when you're going between them, but the approach control sector does pretty well up there. And you've got a natural boundary between BUR and LAX/ONT to the south with the valley.

The other huge saving grace for that region is all the major airports have east/west runways so you've got traffic moving in the same direction almost all the time. We'd go from Burbank to Riverside to Ontario to El Monte and never had any sequencing problems like you see in New York.
 
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