What are the best, worst airlines, airports for Memorial Day travel?

Many delayed flights on the departure table of an airport

Monday marks the unofficial start of summer and millions of people will be flying this weekend to get away.

>> Read more trending news

On Thursday night, travelers were already heading to airports to start their weekend early, and the good news, according to The Associated Press, was that there were not many canceled flights. However, there were more than 6,000 flights delayed, with the most happening at the three New York City-area airports and at Dallas-Fort Worth International.

Friday was expected to be busy, with almost 3 million people going through airport checkpoints, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” Aixa Diaz from AAA told the AP.

JW Surety Bonds conducted a survey to find out what airports were the best and worst when it comes to flying this holiday weekend.

It used data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report to come up with the rankings. It also looked at the best and worst airlines for delays.

According to the data, the airline with the least delays is Hawaiian Airlines, with only 10% of flights getting delayed over Memorial Day weekend. The worst was Virgin Atlantic with 29%.

The average departure delays by airline were:

  • Virgin Atlantic - 29%
  • Frontier Airlines - 23%
  • JetBlue Airlines - 23%
  • Southwest Airlines - 21%
  • Spirit Airlines - 20%
  • United Airlines - 18%
  • American Airlines - 17%
  • Delta Airlines - 14%
  • Alaska Airlines - 11%
  • Hawaiian Airlines - 10%

JW Surety says that the best times to fly with the fewest delays are mornings between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. Flights in that time leave on schedule about 96.4% of the time.

The worst on-time departure percentage happens in the afternoon and early evening, with 64.8% of flights taking off on time.

It isn’t just the airlines that JW Surety Bonds looked at. The company also ranked airport delays during Memorial Day weekend.

The airport with the worst delays over the long holiday was San Francisco (SFO) with 27.8% of flights delayed, while Salt Lake City (SLC) saw the most on-time departures, with 87.5% of flights taking off as scheduled.

So what should you do if your flight is delayed, or worse, canceled?

Before facing the possibility of either a delay or cancellation, travel website The Points Guy said you should opt-in to get flight notifications from your airline or use an app like FlightAware.

You should still head to the airport just in case a flight changes from a delay to on time.

You should also know your rights as a passenger. You can get a refund if your flight is canceled or significantly delayed and you decide not to go on your trip. You also may get reimbursed for extra meals, hotels and ground transportation if you’re stranded overnight, The Points Guy said.

Your rights are spelled out on, the Department of Transportation website.

If your flight is canceled, you can rebook yourself on the airline’s app. If the app doesn’t give you the flights you want, you can try the ticketing desk or calling the airline by phone. If there are long waits when calling the domestic number, use the number for international flights for faster service. You can also use online chat and social media to reach out.

When you talk to someone, be prepared with information, especially if they don’t have an option that works for you. Ask about being changed to another airline, but make sure you have researched what is available, The Points Guy suggests.

If you know your flight is canceled or delayed, try flying same-day standby.

Comments on this article