When you think of delayed airports, you probably think of places like Los Angeles, Dallas and New York JFK, particularly if most of your travel tends to be domestic. While some of these airports are indeed delay prone (LAX airport, for example, ranked #38 out of 50 major airports in March 2018, with an on-time percentage of just 75.29), they pale in comparison to the world's 10 most delayed major airports. The only one in North America that registered in any month of 2017 was Toronto Pearson, and it wasn't delayed enough, overall, to make the top 10 for the year.
Here are the world's most delayed major airports, based on on-time percentage, according to 2017 data published by FlightStats.com.
Jakarta, Indonesia: 51.9%
The world's most delay-prone major airport, as of this writing, is Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. The hub of award-winning Garuda Indonesia Airlines, Jakarta Airport serves more than 200,000 flights per year, placing it in the top 20 airports in the world according to traffic.
What leads to the delays in Jakarta is a combination of inadequate air traffic control infrastructure and several outdated airport terminals. It should be noted, however, that the state-of-the-art Terminal 3, which opened in late 2016, did ameliorate airport operations: In 2015, CGK's on-time performance was less than 40 per cent.
Mumbai, India: 60.4%
Like Jakarta, Mumbai has recently inaugurated a new airport terminal, which has improved the passenger experience—at least for those passengers fortunate enough to travel through it. Unfortunately, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport remains significantly over capacity, to say nothing of its inherent design flaw: The domestic terminal is located more than a kilometer away from the international one, which means that you actually need to sit in traffic when you transfer between the two, adding to your delay woes.
The surprising good news? Since Mumbai is such a congested city in general, you probably won't notice a significant difference between what you experienced during your trip and how the airport functions.
Hong Kong: 63.2%
Hong Kong, on the other hand, is somewhat famous for how punctually it runs in spite of its crowdedness, a fact arguably due to its British-colonial heritage. The same cannot be said for Hong Kong International Airport, which in spite of its award-winning design and long list of passenger amenities, remains congested and plagued by delays.
This is not a big shock, of course, when you consider that two airlines (Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines) have hubs here, and that it's one of the busiest airports in the world, in general.
Seoul, South Korea: 65.9%
Seoul is one of the most crowded, sprawling cities in the world, home to the vast majority of the people who live on the Korean peninsula. It's so jam-packed, in fact, that the city's main international airport sits in Incheon, more than an hour to the west of the city center by high-speed train.
Like Hong Kong, Incheon is a dual-hub airport: For Korean Air and Asiana Airlines. A more efficient future is on the horizon, however. The airport's long-in-progress Terminal 2 has just opened, and will accommodate both Korean Air and its SkyTeam alliance partners.
Paris, France: 66.1%
Paris might be the City of Love (and the City of Lights), but you'll feel dark and hateful if you fly in or out of Charles de Gaulle Airport. This busy hub had the (dis)honor of being Europe's most delayed major airport in 2017, with around a third of all departures experiencing some sort of delay.
Unlike many of the Asian airports on this list, which are investing in expansion projects to improve their efficiency, CDG's design is stuck squarely in the 20th century. TIP: If you can afford to fly in first or business class or Air France, which calls Paris home, your ground experience will be greatly improved, even if you don't depart on time.
Frankfurt, Germany: 66.2%
Statistically speaking, Frankfurt Airport is exactly as delayed as Paris', though it's also a great deal busier. The main hub from Lufthansa, one of Europe's largest airlines, FRA is bursting at the seams, which is pretty remarkable when you consider just how huge the facility is.
Frankfurt is a major point connecting intercontinental flights to Europe to domestic ones in Germany and regional ones in the Schengen Area, so even if you aren't bound for Germany's financial hub, you might find yourself stuck here.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 66.3%
Kuala Lumpur greatly increased the efficiency of its operations when it opened klia2, a terminal dedicated to the operations of low-cost carrier Air Asia, in mid-2014. Unfortunately, the airport still remains one of the most delayed major airports in the world, with only about two thirds of its flights departing on time.
One advantage of traveling through KLIA is that you don't need to re-clear security during international-to-international connections if you're traveling within a single terminal. This doesn't remove the possibility of greater delay, but it does give you more time to enjoy the airport's delicious restaurants and luxurious lounges.
Manila, Philippines: 66.9%
Metro Manila is one of the world's most congested cities, so it makes sense that Manila Airport is likewise at (or, more accurately) over capacity. Like Mumbai's Airport, Manila suffers from the fact that its terminals are physically separated from one another; the airport is an important connection point like most others on this list.
Worse, because of space limitations and perpetually turbulent politics in the Philippines, it seems unlikely that the long-in-progress expansion will ever materialize in a meaningful \way.
Amsterdam, Netherland: 68.1%
The Dutch are known for being efficient (their country would be underwater already if they weren't), which is why it might be surprising to see Amsterdam as one of the world's most delayed airports. This is due to the fact that KLM, the airport's hub carrier, has grown faster than the airport facility can keep up with.
Airlines who serve Amsterdam have tried to curb this congestion themselves, by reducing frequencies and increasing the size of aircraft, but so far the benefit has been minimal, at least according the numbers.
London, UK: 70.2%
Like the Dutch, English people take pride in their punctuality, which is why they must be so ashamed about the operational efficiency of London-Heathrow. While its 70 per cent on-time rating isn't terrible compared to other airports on this list, it's still a bit surprising given the importance of timeliness to the Brits.
As is the case with many other airports on this list, LHR is in a perpetual state of modernization, the latest addition to it the so-called "Queen's Terminal," which houses all the Star Alliance carriers that serve the airport. It's anybody's guess when Heathrow will increase its on-time performance, but there are an increasing number of watering holes to drown your sorrows in a Sapphire and Tonic, anyway.