By Cailey Rizzo
August 28, 2018
Airplanes flying over highway
Credit: Joe Drivas/Getty Images

As the summer draws to a close, all travelers’ eyes are set on the most precious of holiday weekends: Labor Day. It is the last summer weekend to finally accomplish all those things you said you were going to do for the past three months: visit family, barbeque, go to the beach.

Thus, there’s not a minute to be wasted spent waiting for a plane delay.

“Nothing can put a damper on a vacation like having to wait hours at the gate,” RewardExpert co-founder Vlad Tyschuk said in a statement. “Knowing where and when you’re most likely to experience travel disruptions is the first step towards ensuring smooth sailing for the holiday.”

Using five years of flight data from the Department of Transportation, RewardExpert determined which airports, airlines, and travel days are historically more likely to experience delays — so you can avoid them.

According to the report, the worst days for delays are the days everybody is most likely to be at the airport: The Friday before Labor Day (this year, that’s August 31) and the Tuesday after (September 4).

The best days to travel are the actual weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Decent days to travel are Wednesday (August 29), Monday (September 3), and Wednesday (September 5).

And where you’re traveling can affect the likelihood of delays. The best airport to fly in or out of is Honolulu, with a 90.9 percent on-time performance for Labor Day weekends past. (Sounds like a good excuse to book a trip to Hawaii next year.) Runners up are Salt Lake City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, those traveling to and from New York City are the most likely to spend their Labor Day waiting at the airport. Newark-New Jersey and New York LaGuardia were the worst airports in the country, with on-time performance ratings of 76.6 and 76.7 percent, respectively. Other oft-delayed airports include San Francisco, New Orleans and Boston.

Which airline you’re flying can also impact your delay wait time. Of the major U.S. airlines, Hawaiian is most likely to get you to your Labor Day destination on time, with an on-time performance rating of 94.76 percent. Runners up were Alaska Airlines (90.37 percent on time) and Delta (87.93 percent).