Spring travel season is a predictably busy time, with holidays like Easter and Passover adding to the turmoil of college students heading to tropical destinations for spring break. A recent survey found the best and worst travel trends this spring by analyzing five years of travel data from March 1 to May 31. Avoid crowded airports, delays and over-booked flights by planning around the worst travel dates of the season this year. Here are a few tips from the key findings:
Avoid Flying in March
March is by far the worst month to fly this spring, with college breaks and family travel for the Easter and Passover holidays. The study found that the majority of days ranked with the worst average performance for the entire year, including busy airports, overcrowded flights and delays, fall in March. Historically, the absolute worst dates to fly are March 1st, 2nd, 12th and 13th.
Plan to Fly Early for the Holidays
With major holidays falling in March, many travelers will be flying to visit their families. Beat the delays by booking your flights up to a week before the big holidays. Easter Sunday and the first day of Passover are most likely to have the worst airport performance – meaning more time in line, less time with the family.
The Airports with the Worst Track Record for Delays
Newark’s Liberty International Airport (EWR) has the worst overall track record for delayed flights departing or arriving on-time, with 77% of flights experiencing delays in spring. Other airports with poor performance during this time include William P. Hobby (HOU), Love Field (DAL), San Francisco (SFO) and LaGuardia (LGA). For speedy, on-time flights, head to Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SEA), Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP), Portland (PDQ), Salt Lake City (SLC) or Honolulu (HNL).
Expect Crowded Flights and Delays from Florida’s Airports
Blame Florida’s world-renowned beaches and close proximity to other tropical island destinations for the packed flights and delays to and from its major airports this spring. Expect crowded waiting areas and extended delays at international airports including Orlando International (MCO), Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Miami International (MIA). The least busy airport in the state is expected to be the Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers.
Budget Carriers in High Demand by College Students
Performance among budget carriers takes a big dip in spring mainly due to an uptick in travel by college students. JetBlue’s performance takes a major beating, with longer-than-expected delays and full planes. Similarly, airlines including Southwest and Frontier also have lower performance rankings during this season. For the most convenient flights, stick with Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines or Delta. American Airlines and United Airlines may see some delays.