Soaring Summer Hawaii Flight Delays | Misery Belies Latest Studies

Agonizing Summer Hawaii Flight Delays Belie Latest Studies

Two recent reports from LendingTree and Forbes say that Hawaii airports could have the best on-time performance in the US this summer. But is that really true? We were undoubtedly suspicious based on our own and others’ experiences recently. So we dug back into the data of recent flight delays at Hawaii airports.

We’ve been hearing from you about flight delays and cancelations. See a friend’s livid comment below. Also, we now we can confirm your findings rather than what these studies falsely indicate. It’s also worth noting that when you check the actual recent flight delay information below, Southwest Hawaii flights at Honolulu Airport, for example, have had significantly fewer delays than Hawaiian Airlines. We aren’t sure if air traffic control still prioritizes mainland flight arrivals in Honolulu, but we suspect that may still be true. That had been the case during the recent HNL runway repairs and closure that has long-hampered operations.

According to one of the reports (LendingTree), “Honolulu has had the greatest percentage of summertime flights arrive on time in the past 10 years, among the major airports in the United States.”

BOH Yes, we’d also love to give kudos to HNL. But that isn’t the real picture at all. Data from the past ten years is simply irrelevant. It doesn’t show what’s happening now.

LendingTree said it had analyzed “10 years of data for the nation’s 50 busiest airports from the U.S. Department of Transportation to see which airports tend to suffer the most frequent delays in the summertime. What we found, unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, is that delays ramp up during the summer season, and in most places, the problem isn’t getting better. However, there are definitely airports where you’re less likely to encounter delays.”

LendingTree Study: Honolulu has 87.2% on-time arrivals.

Gateway airports to Hawaii and the Hawaii airports themselves fared far better in this analysis. Following HNL’s best-in-country score of 87.2% came Salt Lake City at 86% and Orange County at 83%. Those were followed by Phoenix, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon, in that order.

While the report said that historically speaking, June is the worst month for travel delays, Beat of Hawaii can report that in our travels from and to Hawaii via Las Vegas and Seattle, on Southwest, and on Delta Airlines, all flights were 100% on-time.

The report says that July and August won’t fare much better, with “two-thirds of the 50 airports we reviewed have the worst 10-year average on-time arrival percentage of the year between June and August.”

The report was based on ten years of data from 2009-2018, which we aren’t sure is even relevant given the many issues in the travel industry that only surface post-Covid.

Forbes thinks Hawaii airports rank best for on-time summer travel too.

Forbes Advisor said that “When it comes to great airport experiences, Lihue Airport on the Hawaiian island of Kauai ranked best in the country when it comes to the low likelihood of anything going wrong — nearly 88% of its flights leave on time while cancelations sit at 1.47%. Four of the top five best airports for summer travel are in Hawaii, including Lihue Airport (LIH), Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA), Kahului Airport (OGG) and Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL).”

Recent travel delays at Honolulu Airport – a case in point.

Checking the past several days at Honolulu Airport, here’s how on-time Hawaii summer travel is really going:

After $2.3B, Hawaii Airports Still Land At Bottom In U.S. Rankings.

Honolulu Airport Flight Delays – June 26, 2023

Alaska Airlines – 37%/9 flights delayed

American Airlines – 25%/3 flights delayed

Delta Airlines – 0%/0 flights delayed + 3 canceled

Hawaiian Airlines – 25%/51 flights delayed + 8 canceled

Mokulele Airlines – 20%/16 flights delayed

Southwest Airlines – 14%/12 flights delayed

United Airlines – 24%/9 flights delayed + 5 canceled

Honolulu Airport Flight Delays – June 25, 2023

Alaska Airlines – 20%/5 flights delayed

American Airlines – 8%/1 flights delayed

Delta Airlines – 10%/2 flights delayed

Hawaiian Airlines – 28%/55 flights delayed + 10 flights canceled

Mokulele Airlines – 20%/16 flights delayed

Southwest Airlines – 6%/5 flights delayed

United Airlines – 28%/10 flights delayed + 4 flights canceled

Honolulu Airport Flight Delays – June 24, 2023

Alaska Airlines – 29%/7 flights delayed

American Airlines – 8%/1 flights delayed

Delta Airlines – 10%/2 flights delayed

Hawaiian Airlines – 38%/76 flights delayed + 17 flights canceled

Mokulele Airlines – 10%/7 flights delayed

Southwest Airlines – 2%/2 flights delayed

United Airlines – 34%/13 flights delayed + 3 flights canceled

Anecdotally speaking.

One of Beat of Hawaii’s friends shared his frustration over a canceled Hawaiian Airlines flight this morning. “It’s hard to believe you (Hawaiian Airlines) didn’t know you were canceling our 7:50 am flight before we even left the house today. You let us wake up early, and rush to the airport, only to get canceled at 7:10 am.”


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8 thoughts on “Agonizing Summer Hawaii Flight Delays Belie Latest Studies”

  1. The airlines also consider their flights departing on-time simply because they pushed back from the gate even though they didn’t move any further for quite some time. They’re just not touching the terminal. BOH guys, thanks for always providing us with real information, not fake news.

  2. Very unusual for DAL to cancel a domestic flight – let alone one day! DAL does everything they can to prolong the agony of the passengers – letting the clock run out with unnecessary time wasting tactics and hold passengers hostage at the gate, while you’re on your own finding alternatives. Good luck wanting help at the club, while you wait in another “stand-by” line just to gain admittance to their utterly overcrowded clubs!

    I swear, DAL does everything they can to not have those cancellations show up on the monthly report of the D.O.T. Then, they don’t have to pay for meals or lodging, etc. Yeah for the shareholders (mostly institutional) of Delta Air Lines.

    Someone at DAL is going to get their butt kicked for those cancellations!

  3. At the Kona airport sometimes the incoming flight is on time or early but have to sit on the tarmac because there is no open space. Unfortunately this airport needs a major makeover by adding additional gates and ramps but requires more employees.
    The big fancy international customs area doesn’t get used, waste of money! They need to add some additional gates. More direct flights.
    I admit my flights in and out of KOA have been on time except once. Southwest was the best on time

  4. Well color me lucky. Had a KOA to LAX in February/March. KOA to BOS in May and just returned today from a KOA to LAX. Every flight left and arrived on time.
    All flights were awesome. On board plane personnel were also awesome.
    However, don’t get me started on call center. They sometimes are good but mostly it is really horrible.
    Thanks for another great article gentleman.

    1. Hi Kelly.

      Good to hear from you and glad to hear your travels have gone well. Jeff had to speak with the HA call center today about a reservation, and while admittedly a foreign call center, they were prompt, helpful and professional. No issues whatsoever. In general, travel has its challenges these days, and if one part doesn’t get you, unfortunately another will. Happy travels!


  5. We have been coming to Hawaii since 1995. In that time we had one flight delay due to mechanical. We are now vacationing on Kauai. We left Portland Oregon June 16th on HA. Our fights were on time. Reservations went all out to answer any questions we had. We always book 4-6 months ahead. The only problems we’ve had the last 2 years has been rental cars. Two hours in line waiting is terrible – not enough employees.

  6. Also beware of what the airline reports as on time. I landed once in Denver on Southwest on time according to them. Yes we touched down on time and then proceeded to wandered around the runways for 45 minutes, then just sat near the gate for another 15. Yet the app showed we were on time and they took credit for another on time flight

  7. Given the methodology that was used (using 2008-2018 data), I can confidently claim “The United States pandemic experience in the past ten years has been nearly zero.” True, but not useful.

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