England

Summer holidays: Longest delays from UK airports revealed

Woman standing in front of departure board Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Holidaymakers face an average delay of 21 minutes

One in five flights from the UK to popular holiday destinations are delayed by more than 30 minutes, a BBC analysis has found.

Some 38,000 out of 199,000 international flights that ran at least once a day departed late between June and September 2016.

Most were from London airports - Luton, Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow.

The BBC analysed Civil Aviation Authority data from 25 airports.

The figures do not cover flights that were cancelled.

Gatwick had the biggest proportion of flights delayed by 30 minutes or more, with almost a third of all international departures affected.

BBC England's data unit found:

  • International flights from UK major airports were delayed by an average of 21 minutes last summer.
  • The longest delay was a chartered flight from Manchester to Dusseldorf, which was delayed by 779 minutes, or almost 13 hours, last September.
  • Gatwick Airport experienced the most flight delays last summer, with 30% - or 107,825 - of all flights from that airport recorded to be delayed by over 30 minutes.
  • Our analysis also found that delays across all airports were more likely to take place in June, compared to the other summer months.
  • Three-quarters of the 40 most delay-prone popular routes out of the UK last summer were to European countries. Popular routes are defined as those that ran at least one flight a day on average.
  • The non-European destinations with high numbers of delays were Ghana, Canada, US, Israel, Ukraine and Pakistan.
  • The most delay-afflicted route was from Heathrow to Accra, Ghana. 85 out of 122 - or 70% - of flights on this route were delayed by over 30 minutes last summer.

'Total lack of information'

Image copyright Twitter

Radio presenter Steve Power was flying on a British Airways flight from Gatwick to Limoges in France last week that was delayed by almost three hours.

He said: "It's the total lack of information as to why there is a delay. So many social platforms and nothing but estimated time of departure updated. Other passengers were equally in the dark and shared the exasperation over the lack of detailed information.

"Surely in these days of social media platforms a little more transparency would go a long way in raising passenger confidence in the service."



How to claim compensation

Under EU law, you have the right to claim compensation if your flight arrives at its destination over three hours late. EU law covers flights departing from or arriving to an EU country.

You can claim compensation if the delay was the fault of the airline, such as aircraft problems or flight crew being unavailable, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

However, delays caused by extreme weather, airport or air traffic control employee strikes, airport closures or other extraordinary circumstances are not eligible for compensation.

Even if you cannot claim compensation, your airline must provide you with care and assistance.

Care and assistance include a reasonable amount of food and drink and accommodation if delayed overnight, as well as transport to and from the accommodation.

If you end up paying for any of the above yourself, the CAA recommends keeping every receipt and not spending more than is reasonable.

Advice on claiming compensation and a standard letter are available on the CAA website.


A spokesman for Gatwick said the airport would continue to do everything possible to prevent delays occurring.

"Repeated strike action on the continent over recent years and heavily congested airspace above parts of Europe and London, have led to a significant increase in the number of delays caused by wider air traffic control issues outside Gatwick's control," he added.

"Gatwick has more flights to Europe than any UK airport and is impacted disproportionately by events on the continent."

A spokesperson for Belfast International Airport said: "We do all we can to minimise delays.

"Our on-time performance is generally very good but sometimes we, too, fall victim to things that are outside our control.

"There is congested airspace in London and across Europe and it is clear there is a need to make improvements in aviation infrastructure."

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