The avoid list: These airports have the greatest chance of flight delays and cancellations this summer

Travelers are seen at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, on June 20, 2022. The Canadian federal government started to suspend vaccination requirements against COVID-19 for domestic and outbound travel, federally regulated transportation sectors and federal government employees as of June 20.
Zou Zheng—Xinhua/Getty Images

International air travel is making a strong recovery from the pandemic but not all vacationers have made it to their intended summer destinations, at least on time and with all their luggage. 

Packed planes, pilot shortages, and weather delays are all taking a toll on flight schedules, resulting in thousands of disrupted trips. So far this year, airports have canceled roughly 130,000 U.S. flights, according to FlightAware, compared to 122,000 for the entirety of 2021.

Certain airports, like London’s Heathrow, have been frequently in the headlines for allowing unclaimed luggage to pile up and travelers to linger in hours-long lines. In a controversial move, Heathrow Airport also capped its departing passengers to no more than 100,000 per day and extended that limit this week to until the end of October. 

But FlightAware data since around Memorial Day Weekend indicates that even within the U.K. alone, another airport has had a slightly greater proportion of its scheduled flights delayed. Gatwick Airport ranks fifth in the world for delayed flights, with more than 41% of scheduled flights not arriving on time, while Heathrow followed as sixth with 40% of its flights delayed. 

Europe has been hit particularly hard by flight disruptions. The continent is home to seven of the world’s worst airports in terms of flight delays this summer, though one airport in Canada has them beat. 

Passengers flying into Toronto Pearson International Airport this summer saw the majority of their trips, a whopping 52.5%, experience delays. On Tuesday, Air Canada introduced new policies that let passengers with connections at Toronto Pearson change their flights for free, subject to availability, due to “longer than usual delays.” 

When it comes to cancellations, those flying out of airports in China and the United States experienced the most missed trips this summer. Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport leads with nearly 8% of scheduled flights canceled, and China’s Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport are also among the worst 10 airports globally for cancellations. 

“We’ve seen huge cancellations in China pretty consistently since the pandemic began,” Kathleen Bangs, a spokesperson for FlightAware, told Fortune. Though the Chinese government hasn’t cited any particular causes for the cancellations, Bangs said she believes the country’s zero-COVID strategy and travel restrictions have contributed to the trend. 

Joining Shenzhen’s airport in the top three for flight cancellations are two in the New York City area — Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, each with roughly 7% of its scheduled flights canceled. Those cancellations are more likely to impact those traveling within the U.S., rather than hopping on a plane abroad, according to Bangs. 

“In the U.S., generally speaking – international flights are less likely to get canceled than a domestic flight – simply because the cascading effects are too great,” Bangs said.

Here are the worst offenders of this summer’s travel chaos, based on FlightAware data from May 26 to July 19. 

Airports with the greatest percentage of flights delayed: 

  1. Canada: Toronto Pearson International Airport – 52.5% 
  2. Germany: Frankfurt Airport – 45.4% 
  3. France: Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport – 43.2% 
  4. Netherlands: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol – 41.5% 
  5. United Kingdom: Gatwick Airport – 41.1% 
  6. United Kingdom: Heathrow Airport – 40.5% 
  7. Germany: Munich International Airport – 40.4% 
  8. Greece: Athens International Airport – 37.9%
  9. Australia: Sydney Airport – 34.2% 
  10. United States: Orlando International Airport – 33.4% 

Airports with the greatest percentage of flights canceled: 

  1. China: Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport – 7.9% 
  2. United States: Newark Liberty International Airport – 7.4% 
  3. United States: LaGuardia Airport – 7% 
  4. Canada: Toronto Pearson International Airport – 6.5% 
  5. Indonesia: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport – 6.2% 
  6. Australia: Sydney Airport – 5.9% of flights canceled
  7. China: Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport – 5.2%
  8. United States: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport – 5%
  9. China: Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport – 4.6% 
  10. Netherlands: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol – 3.9%

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