Behind the Airline Misery Index
U.S. News computed the Airport Misery Index by starting with a list of the 100 busiest U.S. airports. We divided those into two groups: large hub and nonhub airports, like Atlanta, Denver, and Orlando, and smaller regional airports like Austin and Buffalo. For each airport, we compiled data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics regarding on-time performance and load factor, which is the percentage of seats filled with passengers. We ranked the airports according to each of those variables, then added the two rankings together, weighting them equally.
That produced an "index" number for each airport. Then we ranked the airports according to the index number, which is how we arrived at our final list. For large airports, the rankings range from 1, the best, to 47, the worst; for regional airports the rankings range from 1 to 53. The airports that rank the highest are those that tend to have the most on-time flights and the least-crowded planes.
At the No. 1 airport, Oakland's Metropolitan, only 19.5 percent of departures are delayed, and planes are about 67 percent full. At Detroit's Wayne County airport, by contrast, the percentage of flights leaving late is double39 percentand the typical flight is 77 percent full.
On-time performance data is for the first three months of 2007 and load factor data is for the first two months. Our rankings may not fully reflect factors such as seasonal variations due to weather, or flights below a certain size at regional airports. But they are a reasonably accurate snapshot of the two issues that most directly affect air travelers: crowded planes and late flights.
Sources: Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics; the Boyd Group