Phoenix vs. Dallas
June 16, 2016 8:09 AM   Subscribe

I am flying American Airlines from New York to Grand Junction, CO this July. Is it better to transfer in Phoenix or Dallas (DFW)? My primary concern is avoiding delays/cancellations, weather-related or otherwise.

Dallas seems more prone to summer thunderstorms than Phoenix, but I've never flown through either, don't know if that's something I should worry about or if there's anything else to consider.

The DFW flight would take off around 2:45 pm while the Phoenix flight would take off at 3:15 pm. There are two flights a day to GJT from both PHX and DFW, but the second DFW-GJT flight is way later at night than the second PHX-DFW. I'll be traveling carry-on only.

There is no difference in fares and layover times would be 2 to 3 hours in both places.

All things equal, I have a slight preference for DFW since that flight gets in earlier, but my overriding concern is to avoid a total cancellation, as I'm meeting a friend for a hiking trip and don't want to wreck the schedule.
posted by andrewesque to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total)
way later at night than the second PHX-GJT, of course
posted by andrewesque at 8:13 AM on June 16, 2016

I would have to agree with you - seems like I hear about Dallas airport being affected by weather ALOT (I travel for work a lot, so I tend to pay close attention to delays, etc.)

I'd choose Phoenix.
posted by foxhat10 at 8:15 AM on June 16, 2016

Anecdata: I've flown through PHX and DFW many times in the past few years. I have never had a delay through PHX, but I can't count how many delays I've had through DFW.

Bonus: If you go through PHX, outside security on the upper floor there's a Chelsea's Kitchen that has a very good burger and this absolutely divine kale salad. Options inside security are plentiful yet sparce, if that makes sense.
posted by mochapickle at 8:24 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd choose Dallas in a HEARTBEAT because I've almost missed numerous connections (all on American) because in Phoenix, I've had to run from one wing to another on the other side of the airport. Dallas generally keeps flights closer together on the same airline.

I've also had a flight (my partner was on) divert to Tucson because of weather in Phoenix and he missed his connecting flight and had to spend the night in the airport.

So: Dallas.
posted by guster4lovers at 8:39 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

FYI: The DFW connection actually requires changing terminals, and the PHX connection is just shy of 3 hours, so I'm not concerned about the time it takes to travel between gates.
posted by andrewesque at 8:43 AM on June 16, 2016

If I'm flying a certain airline I'll always favor a hub city for that airline over a remote city. Your chances of another flight are way better if something goes wrong.

If it's AA, I'd go Dallas.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:46 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Dallas does get storms, but they are predictable. Since AA and US Airways merged, they're both hub cities.

Another consideration:

Some small regional jets are sometimes delayed flying out of Phoenix due to the high temperatures; their engines often can't make enough power for their weight when it's so hot - it's called density altitude. It's an E175 or E190, or a Boeing or Airbus, you'll be fine. CRJs....this can happen. Sometimes passengers get bumped, sometimes the plane just delays until things cool down some.

Changing terminals in DFW used to be an issue in the 90s with the old people mover, but the new SkyTrain works way better. I'd go with Dallas.
posted by Thistledown at 8:47 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anecdotes are great, but federal statistics are better. Looking at the on-time statistics for July in various years, we find that for flights leaving DFW the on-time/delayed/cancelled stats were as follows:
  • July 2015: 79.4% on time, 20.2% delayed, 0.4% cancelled
  • July 2014: 72.1% on time, 25.7% delayed, 2.3% cancelled
  • July 2013: 65.9% on time, 32.2% delayed, 1.9% cancelled
For PHX, we have:
  • July 2015: 77.0% on time, 22.6% delayed, 0.4% cancelled
  • July 2014: 72.9% on time, 26.0% delayed, 1.1% cancelled
  • July 2013: 80.4% on time, 18.8% delayed, 0.7% cancelled
It looks like Phoenix comes out a bit ahead: an average of 23.2% of July flights out of PHX are delayed or cancelled, compared to about 27.5% for Dallas.

You can also filter by carrier if you want to see how the specific airlines you're considering do in the respective cities.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:48 AM on June 16, 2016 [11 favorites]

In addition to DFW being stormy, American at least used to be more conservative than most other airlines about wind speed, so they would be sitting there on the ground while other airlines were taking off. Dunno what the current state of things with the merged company is.

FYI: The DFW connection actually requires changing terminals

However long you think this will take and however confusing you think it will be, it's gonna be worse than that. Even if you take that into account, unless things have changed dramatically since 07. I mean, it's not quantum surgery or anything, but they somehow manage to get "Go from Terminal A to Terminal C" harder than it needs to be. I've always found it really an unpleasant airport to deal with.

I would go with Phoenix because worst case, you get there and find that your flight to Grand Junction is cancelled... fuck it, you can rent a car and still be there that night.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:42 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

If I'm flying a certain airline I'll always favor a hub city for that airline over a remote city. Your chances of another flight are way better if something goes wrong.

I thought that, too! Until American kept delaying me in DFW. Two hours, three hours, two hours, four hours. Once was weather, two were mechanicals, one was mechanical-then-staffing. One time, they delayed us so long that all the baggage loaders went home. Nothing like sitting on a plane at 1 a.m. for an hour waiting for a full-size truck to careen across the tarmac with a band of emergency handlers borrowed from another terminal. Especially when your first leg on American was at 7 a.m. that morning.
posted by mochapickle at 9:46 AM on June 16, 2016

It's been a while since I've changed planes in PHX, but I remember it being a very easy airport to change planes in.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:21 AM on June 16, 2016

I used to live in Phoenix and flew a lot, so I'm familiar with DFW too. I would pick Phoenix in a heartbeat over any other airport in the country. And the food options in most of the terminals are fantastic! Outside of dust storms, which can happen in July but are over really quickly, I'd much rather bet on Phoenix weather, too.

I'm also a nervous flyer and I find the takeoff over Phoenix to be less stressful because there's almost never turbulence.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:37 AM on June 16, 2016

I would also vote for Phoenix. In the past year all my many work trips through Dallas on American Airlines have had issues and been delayed. They seem to just be getting worse and don't give a shit about their customers. And I'm not talking about small delays. I usually end up dealing with 1-5 hours of bullshit. But there's also no guarantees. Maybe I'm just supremely unlucky. Good luck- I hope it works out whichever way you go.
posted by FireFountain at 11:08 AM on June 16, 2016

I would go Phoenix. I live in Texas and I will do nearly ANYTHING to avoid a transfer in either Dallas or Houston. The weather is so unpredictable. I've lived in Arizona too and the weather is not near so bad!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 11:30 AM on June 16, 2016

I would go Phoenix. I have flown AA a decent amount through both cities (maybe 2-3 times each in the past year, plus varying amounts over the past 10 years), and I think I've been delayed every single time through Dallas. I once had to spend 4 extra days in Dallas, and finally got out only by renting a car and driving to Memphis (I wish I was exaggerating or joking. I am not.)
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:05 PM on June 16, 2016

The train to change terminals in DFW is not bad but it's minimum 15 minutes to the next door terminal (assuming no construction on the line), allow 30-45 minutes to transfer further. You need 90 minutes minimum layover. I have had minor issues with delays. Go Phoenix.
posted by crazycanuck at 11:31 PM on June 16, 2016

« Older I want to be the things I see: Asheville, NC...   |   Please help me understand the joke in this Peter... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.