By Andrea Romano
Updated February 26, 2020

Some travelers are chronically late for flights but being late can often turn your day into a travel disaster depending on which airport you go to.

That’s why Financebuzz analyzed 45 of the busiest airports in the United States to find which ones are the best and worst for late travelers.

For those who are always early (perhaps even chronically too early) for flights, the idea of someone waltzing through security with only half an hour before take-off may make you shudder. But, travelers end up being “late” for flights for a variety of reasons, whether it be unforeseeable delays like traffic jams or extreme confidence in their ability to race through the airport. In fact, some late travelers actually try to arrive later because it gives them a tiny thrill.

Luckily, some airports are forgiving when it comes to late travelers. These are usually the airports who have good reputations for having short security wait-times, so getting to your gate is easy and fast.

Financebuzz not only measured average security wait times, but also the number of departing passengers, on-time departure percentage, number of gates, terminal size, and whether the airport offers services like CLEAR. So, the airports with just the shortest wait times may not have achieved the highest rankings.

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The very best airport for late travelers is Hobby Airport in Houston, with a swift average wait time of only 13 minutes and 46 seconds. In the top five are Kansas City International Airport (15:43 minutes), Raleigh-Durham International Airport (14:19 minutes), San Antonio International Airport (18:08 minutes), and Nashville International Airport (14:11 minutes).

The worst airport for late travelers is Newark Liberty International Airport with an average wait time of 33 minutes and 53 seconds. This may come as no surprise, considering Newark is a very large and busy airport close to New York City. Rounding out the top five are other major hubs like Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (31:58 minutes), Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (30:37 minutes), Orlando International Airport (32:04 minutes) and the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (26:41 minutes).

John F. Kennedy International Airport just barely made the top ten with an average wait time of 25 minutes and eight seconds. Other larger and busier airports like McCarran International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, La Guardia Airport, Denver International Airport (the country’s largest), and Washington Dulles International Airport did not make the top 10 on either the best or worst lists.

Knowing the average wait time can help both late and early travelers alike. Not only can late travelers plan better, but early travelers can rest assured they’ll make their flights even if they don’t arrive two hours ahead of time.

For more information or to see where your local airport stacks up, plus some helpful tips on making your flight on time, visit the Financebuzz website.

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