Skip nav to main content.

Some Good News for Memorial Day Weekend Flyers

Should the millions of Americans taking a vacation for Memorial Day ditch their car and…

  • May 22, 2019

Should the millions of Americans taking a vacation for Memorial Day ditch their car and take to the skies? Flight delays are shorter ahead of Memorial Day weekend when compared to other weekends in May, with little change to the number of flights delayed at the busiest airports, according to a new study from personal finance website

Since Memorial Day is largely a driving holiday where people stay local or take road-trips to visit nearby family or beaches, the weekend even saw a decrease in the average delay times in some of the busiest airports in the country.

Key findings:

The Thursday before Memorial Day is the best day to travel, with average flight delay times that are 50 percent shorter than delays on other Thursdays in May. Friday is the busiest travel day before the holiday, but the impact on flight delays is negligible at most airports.

New York City (LGA), Washington D.C. (IAD), Portland (PDX) and Detroit (DTW) all see a 5-10 percent reduction in delays on the Friday before Memorial Day. With Houston (IAH)— which sees no increase or decrease in delays—these are the airports with the fewest and shortest delays over Memorial Day.

It isn’t all good news – some of the bigger airports in the U.S. still get bogged down with delays. The five worst airports for delays on the Friday before Memorial Day are San Francisco (SFO), Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Chicago (MDW), Dallas (DFW) and San Diego (SAN), with delays of 16-30 minutes.

Using 2018 data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, ValuePenguin analysts compared delay times for the week leading up to Memorial Day against delay times throughout the month of May across the 30 largest airports in the country.

They also looked at the share of delayed flights in comparison to the total number of flights on a given day at each airport to find the percentage of on-time departures.

To view the full report, visit:

Find out more at