America’s Most Delayed Planes Revealed: Avoid These Trips At All Costs

If you're thinking of flying, we recommend you reconsider...

America’s Most Delayed Planes Revealed: Avoid These Trips At All Costs

Image: DMARGE/Conde Nast

A Department of Transportation report has revealed the most delayed planes and airlines in the United States. If you’re thinking of flying, we recommend you reconsider…

Airline delays are such a commonplace and comprehensive issue that even the top dog himself President Joe Biden has recently announced his plans to make airlines pay for the poor scheduling, which follows hot on the heels of the naming and shaming of Australia’s most regularly delayed carriers.

Travelling can be stressful for a whole raft of reasons, but nothing adds to that inevitable stress quite like a delayed flight. Recent data analysis by Enilria, using Department of Transportation data — which we found shared by the inimitable View From The Wing — has revealed the planes you’ll definitely avoid if punctuality is a paramount priority.

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In 2023, these were the that aircraft stood out for their repeated lateness, with Frontier Airlines and American Airlines taking the lead in this race to the bottom. Remarkably, nine of the top twenty most delayed planes belonged to Frontier, while six were part of American Airlines’ fast-aging Airbus A320 fleet.

This sounds bad enough, but the most demanding statistic is one that compares these appearances to similar carriers: No other airline had more than one plane on this infamous list, with only one regional jet making the cut.

The rankings tot-up the overall net delays but, it’s important to note, also gives credit to flights that arrive early, effectively offsetting delays minute-for-minute in the final results. As such, despite Frontier’s front-and-centre presence on this list, they still comfortably airline outperformed JetBlue in overall on-time performance.

Similarly, American Airlines, despite having some of the most delayed aircraft was the third most on-time airline overall for the whole of 2023.

Here’s a quick look at some of the top offenders:

  1. Frontier’s Airbus A320 (Tail #N392FR): At just 2 years old, this plane tops the list with an average delay of 24 minutes and a total delay of 36,056 minutes across the year.
  2. Spirit’s Airbus A321 (Tail #N665NK): A 7-year-old aircraft with an average delay of 28 minutes, and a total delay of 35,949 minutes across the year.
  3. United’s CR9 (Tail #N241LR): Operated by Mesa, this 9-year-old plane has an average delay of 28 minutes and a total delay of 35,493 minutes across the year.

While some might leap to argue this data proves carrier fleets are long overdue an update, the data actually makes clear that delays aren’t just an issue for older planes. Some relatively new aircraft are facing significant setbacks as well. Unfortunately for travellers, this means that checking the age of your plane won’t be enough to ensure a timely departure.

Before your next trip, consider checking the aircraft assigned to your flight using tools like FlightRadar24. If you find your plane on the list of frequent offenders, it might be wise to prepare alternative arrangements. If you’re flying with Frontier, the best plan of action might be to book into business class, so at least you can sit comfortably on the tarmac with a flute of something sparkly in your hand…