If you’re flying home to San Francisco International Airport from the New York area, put your feet up, get comfortable and be prepared for a possible long wait on the tarmac.
Of 21 SFO-bound flights that left passengers stranded for three to four hours in June, all but three were from one of the Big Apple’s three anchor airports — John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia International. The monthly figures were released by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics last week and detailed mishandled baggage and on-time statistics for airports nationwide.
After Los Angeles, SFO’s most popular domestic destination is the New York metropolitan area, according to airport figures.
Despite highly publicized stranded-passenger cases in New York and Austin, Texas, last winter, SFO had a very small number of stranded flights on its taxiways, boasting a record of 99.8 percent of flights spending between one and 60 minutes on the tarmac, according to federal reports in April. Industry experts say that SFO’s airspace isn’t as clogged as New York’s, though they expect that it is heading that way.
Still, SFO is not immune to inbound delays from other airports, particularly from New York airspace, which some airline officials have called the most congested in the country.
All of the major airlines, represented by the Air Transport Association, have repeatedly pointed the finger at outdated air-traffic control systems as the reason for hours-long delays or cancellations.
The New York area, particularly JFK, has come under fire in the last several months, criticized for delays due to a relatively small 400-square-mile air space expected to hold more than 1 million flights annually.
Newark Liberty — though technically in New Jersey but falling under the jurisdiction of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — is a popular, cheaper destination point for New York-bound travelers.
Aimee Godines, one such traveler heading to Newark from SFO recently, said her plane was slightly delayed this time, but traveling to LaGuardia or JFK has been a nightmare in the past during peak hours.
“I try to only go to those airports on a red-eye or something,” Godines said.