Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Benjamin Ofori-Amoah

Second Advisor

Dr. Gregory Veeck

Third Advisor

Dr. David Lemberg


Delays, U.S. flight, O'Hare, flight distance group, causes of delays

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Flight delays are economic, social, and environmental albatross to U.S. businesses and consumers. In 2007 alone, domestic flight delays cost the U.S. aviation industry $40.7 billion (Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate Report, 2008). These delays involved inconveniences for airlines and passengers, and untold misery for local and state officials. In that same year, delays forced U.S. airlines to consume an extra 740 million gallons of jet fuel (Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate Report, 2008). The purpose of this study is to understand flight delays at U.S. airports and to determine how key causal factors for delays can be mitigated. The Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) is used as a case study for this research, and the year under review is 2010.

The thesis focuses on departure delays, using the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) on-time performance data. The data is divided into 5 delay-causing categories which forms the cornerstone of this study. Data are analyzed with SPSS 18.0, GIS ArcMap 10, and Microsoft Excel 2010. In 2010, ORD's combined delays were the equivalent of 15.59 years of continuous delays. Flight distances and destinations greatly influence delay durations. The study recommends introducing a taxation/bonus system to encourage efficiency and schedule compliance.