Travel across the United States is expected to be exceptionally busy this summer, with high demand for air travel anticipated. However, New York City is likely to experience the most significant impact from increased travel, resulting in potential flight delays. Staffing shortages and weather events contribute to the challenges faced by airports in the New York City area. This article explores the reasons behind the expected flight delays, who will be affected, and provides some tips to mitigate potential disruptions.

  1. Staffing Shortages and Air Traffic Control Challenges: New York City’s airports, including LaGuardia (LGA), John F. Kennedy International (JFK), and Newark Liberty International (EWR), are grappling with severe staffing shortages in air traffic control. Currently, air traffic control in New York City is operating at only 54% of the target level, leading to potential delays. The Federal Aviation Administration has warned airlines about this shortage, prompting some carriers, like JetBlue, to reduce their summer flight schedules by 10% to alleviate strain and mitigate delays.

  2. Weather Events: The summer season in New York City is often marked by thunderstorms, which can further exacerbate flight delays or cancellations. Adverse weather conditions have been a recurring problem for many years, and with increasing travel demand, the impact may be more pronounced this summer.

  3. Impact on Travelers: Flight delays will affect not only travelers arriving in or departing from New York City but also those connecting through these airports to other destinations across the United States and internationally. As New York City is projected to receive over 60 million tourists in 2023, the potential for delays during peak travel seasons, especially between Memorial Day and Labor Day, is significant.

  4. Mitigating Potential Delays: While it is impossible to guarantee a delay-free trip, there are measures travelers can take to minimize the chances of experiencing significant flight disruptions:

  5. Book morning flights: Flights scheduled in the morning have a higher likelihood of departing on time. Departures between 6 am and 7 am typically have an 86% on-time departure rate, while those between 10 pm and 11 pm have a 66% on-time departure rate. Choosing an earlier flight reduces the potential negative impact of earlier delays or issues.

  6. Consider alternative transportation: If feasible, consider taking the train instead of flying, particularly for destinations within the Mid-Atlantic region and the Northeast of the United States. Amtrak and regional trains provide convenient and reliable options for travel, allowing you to bypass potential airport delays.

Travelers planning trips to or through New York City this summer should be prepared for potential flight delays due to staffing shortages and weather events. With airports in the New York City area operating below target staffing levels, delays may be more prevalent during peak travel seasons. By booking morning flights and considering alternative transportation options like trains, travelers can minimize the likelihood of experiencing significant disruptions. However, it is essential to remain flexible and prepared for potential delays, ensuring you have travel insurance to mitigate any unexpected inconveniences.