Statistical guru Nate Silver — who correctly predicted an Obama win in the 2012 election when other media were calling it a toss-up — has come out with a new analysis of U.S. airline on-time data, concluding that Virgin America continues to perform better than its airline competitors, and New York LaGuardia remains at the bottom of the airport barrel for timely arrivals and departures.
Silver’s website, www.fivethirtyeight.com, crunches government data to see how airlines and airports are performing relative to their peers in on-time flights; the site offers an interactive feature where travelers can input their own plans to find out which combination of airline and airport is most likely to get them to their destination fastest.
Silver’s latest study looked at domestic airline performance from May 2014 to April 2015. For airports, he found, the timeliest flight operations were at Honolulu, Portland, San Diego, Tampa and Salt Lake City, which all benefit from relatively decent, or at least predictable, weather.
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On the bottom of the 30-largest airport rankings? “The New York metro area wins the Triple Crown of flight delays,” Silver writes, “with LaGuardia, JFK and Newark ranking as the three slowest major airports, in that order. Chicago O’Hare is the fourth-worst, while Philadelphia is fifth from the bottom.” He notes that performance at New York JFK could get worse this summer due to ongoing runway work there.
Individual airline performance was topped by Virgin America, which also ranked first in Silver’s first analysis of flight delays several months ago. Alaska and Delta ranked second and third, while United once again occupied the basement. United “has at least been marginally better so far in 2015 than in 2014, costing travelers three minutes per segment instead of six. But when you’re flying more than a million flights a year, it can take some time to change course,” Silver observed.
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