The Best Airports for Business Travelers + a Few That Could Up Their Game
If you’ve ever traveled for work, you know that a leisure vacation is quite different from business travel. When you are headed to a getaway with loved ones, taking time to experience airport amenities can be enjoyable. However, when you have tight deadlines to meet and meetings to attend, your top priority is to get into and out of the airport as quickly as possible. In those instances, flight delays and cancellations can be infuriating!
We looked at the most recent data from the Department of Transportation and compiled a comparison of the best U.S. airports for business travel based on delayed and on-time flights. To be fair to the rural airports that do not serve enough flights to properly measure their rates, we excluded airports with less than 500 arriving flights in the selected timeframe.
After that, we removed conspicuous vacation destinations like Hawaii and the San Juan islands from our list, which left us with a total of 98 airports to compare. As
Top U.S. Airports by Percentage, Arrivals, Departures, and Total On-Time Flights
We took the data we had and crunched it four different ways:
- Overall percentage of on-time flights
- Percentage of on-time arrivals
- Percentage of on-time departures
- Number of total on-time flights
Best Airport by Overall Percentage of On-Time Flights
The most obvious way to look at the data was to identify the average percentage of on-time flights by airport. DAL in Dallas, Texas and OAK in Oakland, California tied for first place with an overall average on-time flight rate of 95.5%. Those airports were followed closely by STL in St. Louis, MSP in Minneapolis, DCA in Washington D.C., and HOU in Houston. Here are the top airports for business travel based on the overall percentage of on-time flights for each.
- Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL), Oakland International Airport (OAK) - 95.5%
- St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) - 94.65%
- Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport (MSP) - 94.35%
- Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport (DCA) - 94.3%
- William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) - 94.25%
You’re probably curious about which airports had the lowest overall percentage of on-time flights. (We were too!) Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) in Anchorage, Alaska actually came in at the bottom with a mere 82.1% overall on-time flights for the surveyed period. If you have business in the area, consider traveling a day or two ahead of your work schedule.
Best Airport by Percentage of On-Time Arrivals
We thought it would be helpful to understand which airports are the best for business travelers in terms of arrivals. DAL in Dallas was the winner a second time, with 95.9% of on-time arrivals. OAK in Oakland took a close second chair, followed by MDW in Chicago, HOU in Houston, and STL in St. Louis. The best airports for business travel based on the percentage of on-time arrivals are as follows.
- Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) - 95.9%
- Oakland International Airport (OAK) - 95.1%
- Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) - 94.8%
- William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) - 94.7%
- St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) - 94.5%
When we looked at the lowest percentage of on-time arrivals, we found ANC in Anchorage at the bottom of the list again. Ted Stevens International Airport served only 76.9% of on-time arrivals and proved to be one of the most challenging airports to fly into, as a result. That means that nearly a quarter of arrivals were either delayed or canceled for the selected period, giving business travelers another reason to travel ahead of schedule when doing business in Anchorage.
Best Airport by Percentage of On-Time Departures
For those concerned with advanced planning, looking at the percentage of on-time departures at a given airport is also interesting data. This time, we were surprised to see MYR in Myrtle Beach at the top of the list with an impressive 96% of on-time departures. Also at the top of the list are OAK in Oakland, ABQ in Albuquerque, DCA in Washington D.C., and MCI in Kansas City. The actual percentages of on-time departures at these airports are shown below.
- Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) - 96%
- Oakland International Airport (OAK) - 95.9%
- Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) - 95.6%
- Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport (DCA) - 95.5%
- Kansas City International Airport (MCI) - 95.4%
This time, ANC in Anchorage wasn’t the lowest on the list and actually came in with a notably higher percentage of on-time departures than Key West International Airport (EYW). At EYW, only 84.7% of departing flights were on-time for the selected period. So, if you need to leave Key West on business in the near future, plan for possible flight delays and flight cancellations.
Best Airport by Total Number of On-Time Flights
Our data pulled a range of total flights— from 1,019 to 44,615—from airports we studied. ATL in Atlanta was the clear victor in this category with approximately 41,760 on-time flights reported during the reviewed period. DFW in Fort Worth, DEN in Denver, CLT in Charleston, and ORD in Chicago were also at the top of the list. Here are the actual number of on-time flights at these airports for the reported period.
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) - 41,760
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) - 33,584
- Denver International Airport (DEN) - 33,247
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) - 24,907
- O’Hare International Airport (ORD) - 23,324
The airport with the lowest number of on-time flights in the selected period was Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) in Asheville, North Carolina. This smaller airport served 892 on-time flights with 86.3% on-time arrivals and 88.6% on-time departures. It might be wise to plan to travel one or two days in advance when arriving in or departing from AVL if you are traveling for work.
Conclusion: What’s the Best Airport for Business Travel?
Before we name a winner, there is one more interesting finding to share. While Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) came in second for the total number of on-time flights in this timeframe, the airport also ended up with the most total delays and cancellations (approximately 4,172). With this in mind, percentages are likely the best way to measure an airport’s reliability.
It seems as though Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) is the prizewinner here, with the highest overall percentage of on-time flights and the highest percentage of on-time arrivals. However, they’re not immune to flight delays and cancellations. In the selected period, DAL ended up with approximately 343 delays or cancellations out of their total 7,616 scheduled flights.
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References: Air Travel Consumer Report On-Time Arrival and Departure Percentage By Airport By Reporting Operating Carrier Published Jan. 2021
Research Sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1aWGXaDMz-nrq4cz0TxByVte9n-qjYwMyc0H5HU-xeEc/edit?usp=sharing