What Is the Best Time of Day to Fly at BWI Airport?

By Bill Ordine

Air travel has made an impressive comeback since the COVID-19 pandemic substantially slowed the industry in 2020 and into 2021. While that has been welcomed news, the roaring revival of air travel has not been without its troubles.

Labor shortages in all phases of the industry, coupled with high demand and occasional weather problems, has created well-publicized inconveniences for travelers when it comes to flight delays and cancellations.

In the first six months of the year, 24% of U.S. flights were delayed and 3.2% were outright cancelled, according to the Department of Transportation. Major airports have struggled the most, so BetMaryland.com decided to look at when is the best time to travel when you are flying from Baltimore.  

While passengers generally feel helpless when they must endure a delay or cancellation, there might be some things within the control of air travelers when planning their trips that can help them avoid the miseries of delayed flights – and consequently missed connections. Understandably, passengers sometimes don’t have the latitude to pick and choose their departure times, but when they can, the following might be quite helpful.

A Look at the Methodology

BetMaryland.com utilized the Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report to gather the percentage of delays at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). 

The reports during May, June and July 2022 (the three most recent reports) were averaged to determine the percentages for each time slot. Once the percentage of flights departing on-time was determined, we created odds for that occurrence to happen during the flight’s time frame. 

If there’s a single rule of thumb, it is this: The earlier a passenger can manage to book a flight from BWI – or from almost any airport, for that matter – the better the chances are of having their flight leave on time.

For example, BWI flights leaving between 6 a.m. and 6:59 a.m. -- meaning that the alarm clock will be going off in the middle of the night -- give travelers just about their best chance, statistically, of an on-time departure.  

The average on-time percentage for the crack-of-dawn departures (6 a.m.-6:59 a.m.) was 86.4% for the three months measured. Translated to Maryland sports betting odds (where a minus number is indicative of a greater likelihood of a certain outcome), the odds are -635 that a plane will leave on time in that early-morning slot. Put another way: If someone wanted to bet on a plane missing its scheduled departure time in that time slot, they’d have to wager $635 to win just $100.

The average on-time departure rate for the 7 a.m.-7:59 a.m. time range was a fairly reliable 82.9%.

On-Time Flights Sink as Day Goes On

On-time percentages were generally good throughout the mornings but the trend was clear. The later in the day a flight is scheduled to depart, the likelihood of a delay increased.

For instance, flights scheduled to depart from the mid-afternoon hours into the early evening hours had average on-time departure performances in the 52%-56% range (close to even money in betting terms, -109 to -127) during the months measured. Obviously, that’s a significant downward move from those early-bird departures. 

On-time departure percentages only got worse during the evening, sinking to an average of 22.5% from 10 p.m.-10:59 p.m.

On-time departure percentages only got worse during the evening sinking to an average of 22% from 10 p.m.-10:59 p.m., until the nearly seven-hour timeframe of 11 p.m.-5:59 a.m., flights that have been called “red-eyes.” For that timeframe, there was a spike for on-time departures to 87.4%.

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Depart timePct. Departing on TimeOdds Flight Departs on Time
✈6:00-6:59 AM86.4%-635
✈7:00-7:59 AM82.9%-485
✈8:00-8:59 AM76.9%-333
✈9:00-9:59 AM64.3%-180
✈10:00-10:59 AM73.6-279
✈11:00-11:59 AM74.8%-297
✈12:00-12:59 PM77.5%-334
✈1:00-1:59 PM63.7%-175
✈2:00-2:59 PM56.0%-127
✈3:00-3:59 PM56.2%-128
✈4:00-4:59 PM51.0%-104
✈5:00-5:59 PM52.4%-110
✈6:00-6:59 PM52.1%-109
✈7:00-7:59 PM41.4%+142
✈8:00-9:59 PM39.2%+155
✈9:00-9:59 PM28.5%+251
✈10:00-10:59 PM22.5%+344
✈11:00 PM-5:59 AM87.4%-694
✈12:00-5:59 AM86.4%-635

Contributors

A longtime reporter and editor who began writing on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened, Bill covered the world Series of Poker and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for a decade.

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