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O’Hare Airport linked to nation’s worst flight delays

O’Hare Airport factored into nine of the 10 most delayed routes in 2014, with the trip from Chicago to Knoxville, Tennessee, being the most-delayed of the bunch, coming in late 44 percent of the time, a new analysis found.

The only non-Chicago trip not in the top 10 was Denver to Aspen, Colorado, one that has frequent weather delays in the Rocky Mountain trip, according to the Wall Street Journal’s analysis.

<a href="http://graphics.wsj.com/table/delayed_airline_routes_2014" target="_blank">The most delayed airline routes of 2014, according to Wall Street Jounral analysis.</a>
The most delayed airline routes of 2014, according to Wall Street Jounral analysis.

A United Airlines spokesperson told the Journal that the Knoxville delays were weather-related and the result of scheduling – the trip often takes place after 2 and can be affected as delays earlier in the day trickle down.

But both United and American have trouble getting their scheduled flights to Knoxville on time, according to the report.

Chicago-Knoxville’s recent record has been just as bumpy. From June 7 to 16, the three daily round trips offered by American and five round trips offered most days by United were canceled or arrived late 63% of the time, with an average delay of 50 minutes, according to data from flight-tracking services FlightStats and FlightAware.

The delays and flat-out cancellations can cause for desperate measures, with some fliers choosing to make the nine-hour drive from Chicago south, or booking through other cities with a higher degree of dependability.

Overall, O’Hare is struggling with delays in general. A recent Bureau of Transportation Statistics study showed the airport straining with capacity issues. Departure delays sat at 28 percent for all routes, while arrivals is at 26 percent, according to numbers presented earlier in June.

But how to fix the congestion that increasingly is halting efficiency at O’Hare remains a topic of debate. Plans for additional runway space are drawing protests because of residential noise issues. And some critics contend that more runways only adds fuel to the fire, claiming that more gates are needed to increase efficiency.