Get Outta Here

Philadelphia Airport is renowned for its flight delays, lack of runway space, and overall success as “The Worst Place to Fly Out of Ever” — and it isn’t just us. Ranked 28th out of the nation’s airports for on-time departures by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, we did you a favor and figured out which airlines will get you off the runway and on your way to Philly’s top five most frequented destinations faster.

Southwest can’t do anything about the two-hour wait for Space Mountain, but the airline will get you to Orlando faster than anyone else from PHL. With a stellar 79 percent on-time record, you might think of bringing them back some mouse ears. AirTran is also a pretty good bet, taking a seat behind Southwest with 74 percent of their flights departing on time, and last and least likely to get you to Orlando on-time is hometown zero, US Airways. If you do happen to get stuck on the way back to Philly, don’t miss the terrific modern art scattered throughout Orlando’s airport.

Civil rights, Ted Turner, and Coca-Cola, what’s not to love? Atlanta agrees with Philadelphians, and it’s the second most-traveled-to city from Philly. Even if Georgia isn’t on your mind, you may still have to stop there — more than half of Atlanta’s passengers use the airport as a connection hub. Delta and AirTran are the most efficient carriers to ATL with an on-time average of 70 percent, but don’t assume timeliness runs in the family; Delta’s connection carrier, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, has the worst track record, at 49 percent.

Want to fly to the Windy City, but the thought of flying out of PHL makes walking a viable option? Cheer up, it’s not as bad as you think. Southwest is the most prompt discount carrier to Chicago’s Midway Airport, with about 77 percent of their flights leaving on time. That number is bound to improve, we hope, as Southwest’s Philly terminal will be revamped by 2009, easing ticketing congestion and overall airport hideousness. If O’Hare is beckoning, then take a 70 percent chance with United. Whatever the case, do not take American Airlines Eagle; grounded 50 percent of the time, the airline may soon become American Airlines Penguin.

Before you begin your rush to 30th Street to catch your train to Boston, don’t rule out a flight to Beantown. With about $100 you can get to Boston and back in a little over an hour each way on AirTran. AirTran’s flights have a 70 percent chance of leaving on time, and if they’re all booked, US Airways is next to fly, with a flimsy 60 percent on-time record. Although a delay at the airport isn’t ideal, it’s still less expensive and faster than the train, where the only thing moving quickly is your blood pressure.

Ft. Lauderdale
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic — runway or expressway — while itching to sit on the beach. Bet you didn’t know that you could probably get to Florida faster than the Shore on a Friday afternoon if you fly Southwest. The awesome 80 percent on-time record will leave you feeling quite pleased as you peer out the window over the bumper-to-bumper gridlock on I-95, and with fares averaging a little over the price of two tanks of gas, what’s holding you back? AirTran isn’t too shabby either, with a 70 percent on-time rate and low fares to boot. Coming in last is slow and steady US Airways, with 60 percent of flights leaving on time it’s almost as sluggish as that Suburban switching lanes in front of you.

Source: US Bureau of Transportation Statistics 5/06-5/07; direct flights only.