Which country is plagued by more flight delays than any other nation on the planet? The answer is China—home to the world’s fastest-growing air-travel industry, and the place where travelers are most likely to find themselves facing interminable and horrifying delays in airports.
According to a report from FlightStats, the 20 worst airports in Asia for flight delays are in China. And the airport with the world’s worst record for on-time departures? It’s Beijing, with only 18 percent of flights getting off the ground on schedule. In addition, eight out of 10 of the industry’s worst performing airlines are Chinese carriers.
Delays are as wild as they are widespread. China takes travel headaches to a terrifying level with passengers storming runways and assaulting ground crew during multi-day delays. It’s not pretty.
Experts cite China’s military-controlled airspace as the reason for profusely widespread delays. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) did, however, set up an “unrestricted take-off” policy at some of the country’s airports in an attempt to reduce flight delays; this means that planes take off as soon as all passengers are onboard—even if there’s no room to land.
The policy doesn’t seem to be working, though, since planes must continue circling in the air until there’s a spot where they can land. Business Insider calls unrestricted take-off “silly” and a “Band-Aid solution, a way to disguise delays on the ground as delays in the air.”
So until China is able to manage its rapidly growing air-travel industry, be aware that your travel itinerary could fall to pieces if you’re flying out of Beijing. Bring a book.
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