How to Avoid Flight Cancellations This Summer: The Best Times and Worst Times to Fly

Flight cancellations and delays have become a frustrating, seemingly unavoidable part of air travel this summer. While any flight is liable to get canceled, especially as the aviation industry is facing several operational issues right now, experts say there are a few booking strategies that could help lessen the chances of having your flight get nixed from the airline’s schedule.

And at least for now, it’s one of passengers’ best strategies until airlines can hire enough crew, as well as take other “Additional measures to smooth out the crisis.“ This [situation] has been building since early April and resources are now exhausted and new [employees] That takes time, ”says John Grant, chief analyst at data firm Official Aviation Guide (OAG).

We took a look at recent airline data in the US and Europe to identify the best times to fly in order to avoid cancellations. Specifically, very early morning or mid-morning, as well as a small window in the early afternoon, seem to be “The timeframes with the fewest hiccups.“ The later in the day the departure, the greater the probability of cancellations, as airlines see resources running down, ”Grant says.

Here’s all the information you need to be strategic as you book to give yourself the best chance of a smooth takeoff.

Best times to fly in the US

According to data analyzed by OAG from April 1 through June 21, flight cancellations for US departures start seeing a major uptick each day around 3 pm Cancellations remain fairly high through to 9 pm, with notable spikes at 6 pm and 7 pm During the three- month period that OAG analyzed, the highest number of cancellations occurred during the 6 pm hour with a grand total of 32,221 cancellations, followed by 7 pm with 32,037, and 8 pm with 28,757.

To that end, if you’re looking to avoid a cancellation, morning flights seem safer to book. Flights departing first thing in the morning saw the fewest cancellations, in part because there are fewer scheduled departures (which also means fewer things to go wrong) ). There were only 4,025 flights canceled in the 5 am hour, according to the data set from OAG. Progressing through the morning, takeoffs—and therefore cancellations—start to spike. From 6 am to 8 am there were significant cancellations (19,854 during) 6 am; 18,071 during 7 am; and 19,182 during 8 am). Things settled down again for departures leaving between 9 am to 2 pm, with the number of cancellations dipping further at the 11 am hour, which saw a total of 12,563 over the three months.

While the volume of cancellations is higher than in the past, the time of day when most US flights are getting canceled hasn’t positioned too much, according to Grant. adds.

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