delaysIt’s apparent to anyone who has purchased a plane ticket recently that things are rapidly changing when it comes to the total flying experience. But while we have watched things slip away–like free checked bags and in-flight meals—the one thing that hasn’t changed much is the problem of punctuality. This is otherwise known as on-time performance and includes metrics used to determine performance at both the individual airline level, as well as at the airports themselves. But now the folks at the Official Airline Guide (OAG) have released a punctuality report for both airlines and airports.

This report employed data from over 900 airlines, including 113 low cost carriers in airports all across the world. In total, the report was based on 43.5 million flight records, but it excludes data from canceled flights. The results were gathered based on the percentage of on-time departures, and a flight was considered “on-time” if it operated within 15 minutes of schedule.

Which airports and airlines scored an A+? Here we go.


Small Airports—10 million or fewer flights per year

In the small airport category, the top three airports are Bristol, Brussels South Charleroi, and Berlin Schönefeld. Bristol scored the best numbers of any airport in the world, with a 94.4 percent on-time record, while Brussels scored 93.1 percent and Berlin 92.3 percent. Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger, Adelaide, Milan Linate, Hannover, and London Luton round out the top ten.

How did the U.S. fare? Portland, Oregon was the only U.S. airport to make the top 20—and it was the last one in the bunch. Portland’s 87.3 on-time flight percentage was the second highest in the country though, so hats off to Portland.

Most of the small airports that comprise the top twenty are from Western Europe, with a few exceptions—Athens, Greece, Portland, and a couple in Australia and New Zealand.

Medium Airports—10 to 20 million flights per year

You might think that because the Western European airports swept the small airport category that they would lead the way with the medium airports as well. But Osaka, Japan ended up taking the crown with 93.2 percent on-time departures. Following Osaka is Moscow with 89.8 percent and Copenhagen with 89.8 percent. Salt Lake City, Vienna, Helsinki, Oslo, Berlin Tegel, Duesseldorf, and Madrid complete the top ten.

The U.S. did better in this category. U.S. airports that made the cut included Salt Lake City (fourth place on this list, but first place in the entire country with 88.2 percent), Detroit (13th place, 84.5 percent), and Washington National DCA (15th place, 82 percent).

Large Airports—20 million or more flights per year

As far as the big guns go, Munich takes the number one spot, followed by Tokyo and then Seattle with 86.2 percent on-time flights. Singapore Changi snags number four, followed by Minneapolis, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Sydney, Miami, and Charlotte.

In this category, the U.S. also has Minneapolis at number five with 84.4 percent, Miami at number nine with 83.2 percent, Atlanta at number 12 with 82.4 percent, Los Angeles at number 15 with 81.1 percent, and Houston at number 20 with 78.8 percent.


All Airlines

AirBaltic leads this category with 94.9 percent, higher than any airport or airline in the world. Hawaiian Airlines came in second and won the top honors for a U.S. airline, with 92.3 percent, and Austrian Airlines takes third with 90 percent. The rest of the top ten: Iberia, Norwegian Air Shuttle, KLM, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Thai AirAsia. In twelfth place, we have Alaska Airlines with 88.5 percent. The Alaska rating is admirable, considering its ever-present weather issues.

Low Cost Carriers

This category, like the small and medium airport categories, is dominated by Europe. Norwegian Air Shuttle takes the top spot with an 89.7 percent on-time record, followed by Thai AirAsia with 88.7 percent, and easyJet with 87.7 percent. The rest of the top ten include NIKI, Monarch Airlines, Aer Lingus,, IndiGo Air, Jetstar Airways, and Virgin America.

The U.S. didn’t do as well here, which highlights some of the major differences between European and American low-cost carriers.

The Americas

Specifically in the Americas, the top three airlines are as follows: Hawaiian Airlines with 92.3 percent, Alaska Airlines with 88.5 percent, and Delta Air Lines with 83.6 percent. Virgin America takes number four, followed by Lan Airlines, Airtran Airways, US Airways, Air Canada, Aeromexico, JetBlue Airways (important note: AirTran has now been absorbed by Southwest, and US Air has merged with American).

The Moral to the Story

When looking at punctuality by both airports and airlines, the deduction here is simple:

You can often save time by flying to and from smaller airports. Smaller airports have less obstacles to overcome than larger airports and don’t usually have to deal with weather patterns tens of thousands miles away, competition for gate space, or a higher rate of miscellaneous errors.

You can also save time by flying smaller, regional airlines. They, like the smaller airports, generally face fewer challenges getting you to your destination on time because there is less room for overall error—e.g., smaller fleet, fewer mechanical issues.

Smaller airports may have a better record, but that doesn’t mean larger airports are predictably unreliable. Some large airports do surprisingly well despite the odds stacked against them. For example, Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world (based on the amount of passengers), but it earned the number 12 spot for all large airports worldwide. Dubai also fared well in this respect—it transports the most international passengers annually but still managed to snag the number 14 spot in the large airport category.

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By Brittany Malooly for