Kat Long

The holiday season is the busiest time of year for air travel. According to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, only about 75 percent of flights to and from major U.S. airports arrived on time, meaning that passengers have a one in four chance of getting to their destination late.

This data-driven story will describe the seven causes of flight delays that are tracked by the BTS. The data suggest that weather is one of the least common reasons, and that late-arriving connecting flights is most common. A bar chart or graph will show the frequency of each cause over the past year. Accompanying text will explain that the rate of each cause has remained consistent over the past decade, and experts will offer tips to holiday travelers for avoiding delays when possible.

Data source

I created a spreadsheet tabulating Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Using this online tool, I compiled the number and percentage of flight delay causes for each year between 2004 and 2014 inclusive.


Dave Smallen
Press secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics

John Lopinto
Co-Founder,, a leading website for advice and travel trends geared toward frequent flyers.

Rick Seaney
CEO of, air travel analyst and columnist
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