Nothing is more stressful than delayed flights and hours wasted in hard airport terminal chairs. For most people, the goal is to get in and out of the airport as fast as possible. When traveling through JFK or LaGuardia you need to plan your travel to take advantage of the traffic and the airline’s on time arrivals.
By far the best time to travel through any airport is typically the early morning, especially between 6-8 AM. More than 80% of flights arrive on time during this time window. There is less air traffic at the airport, but there is also less ground traffic during this time, so the time you spend sitting at stop lights, searching for parking and waiting in line for security is greatly reduced. If you are giving yourself plenty of time for security and check-in, you will likely be off the road and into the airport terminal before traffic builds up on the roads.
If you can handle taking an overnight flight, this is the second best time to travel. Most night time flights have extra time built in for delays, so you don’t have to worry as much about missing a connecting flight. Your overnight flight may take off later than expected, but in many cases it will still arrive as expected since there is no waiting to land at the destination.
When Not to Travel
Overwhelmingly, the evidence suggests that you should not travel after lunch. As delays build up throughout the day, afternoon and evening flights get pushed back further and further. Evening flights have the worst on time arrival stats according to a Forbes study. Some airlines have a pocket of time in the early afternoon to allow any delayed flights to catch up, but this often isn’t enough to get everything back on track. Plus, evening rush hour often lasts longer than morning rush hour so leaving the airport can be even more frustrating.
When it comes to planning your travel, the key is to get an early start to the day. The earlier you can schedule your flight, the more likely you are to reach your destination according to plan. You will have an easier time getting to the airport and going through check in. Plus, if there is a delay, you are more likely to find an alternative flight available within a reasonable time frame. If you are traveling late in the evening, your only recourse may be to wait until the next day to fly out.