Flying home: The longest flight delays revealed

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Summer holidaymakers returning to the UK from the world's busiest airports have suffered the longest average delays from Rome, BBC analysis shows.

Passengers waited an average of nearly 29 extra minutes to travel back to the UK from Rome Fiumicino Airport.

Venice, Nice and Barcelona were next on the list of longest UK-inbound delays among the 50 airports with the most flights on these routes.

The data comes from figures collected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Worst routes

The analysis, by the BBC's data journalism team, is based on the last two years of CAA data for all flights from or to UK airports during June to August.

Earlier analysis showed that, on flights leaving the UK, holidaymakers heading from Gatwick Airport and on Easyjet flights suffered the longest delays.

Flight calculator: At the top of the page you can enter your UK departure city, and your destination, to find average delays for the airlines serving this route in the last two summers.

Now, data on the routes used by UK residents returning home, show that six of the 50 airports with the most flights back to the UK had typical delays of more than 25 minutes.

This even included internal flights from Gatwick.

If the less frequently flown routes are included in the data, then flights to UK airports from Kingston, Jamaica, had the longest average delay of nearly 53 minutes.

Six airports on this list recorded average delays of more than 45 minutes in the last two summers.

On specific routes, travellers flying from Keflavik Airport in Iceland to Glasgow saw the longest average delay of 55 minutes, followed by Malaga in Spain to Heathrow (54 minutes) and Kingston, Jamaica, to Gatwick (53 minutes).

Among the 50 busiest airports for flights to the UK, the worst delays were from Barcelona to Gatwick (31 minutes), followed by Chicago O'Hare Airport to Heathrow (30 minutes) and Palma de Mallorca Airport to Gatwick (30 minutes).

Image copyright PA

Travellers flying from the EU or on European airlines do have a right to compensation. This means:

  • If your flight departed the European Union or was with a European airline, you might have rights under EU law to claim if the delay or cancellation was within the airline's control
  • If your flight's delayed for two or more hours the airline must offer food and drink, access to phone calls and emails, and accommodation if you're delayed overnight - including transfers between the airport and the hotel
  • If you arrive more than three hours late in a journey of less than 1,500km (932 miles) you are entitled to 250 euros (£225) in compensation from the airline
  • If you arrive more than three hours late in a journey spanning more than 1,500km, but within the EU, you can get 400 euros in compensation from the carrier
  • Journeys to non-EU destinations more than 3,000km away that arrive between three and four hours late put you in line for 300 euros in airline payouts, while delays longer than four hours to these destinations are due 600 euros in compensation
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Media captionFlight delay compensation: When can you claim?


All data used on this page is compiled and made available by the Civil Aviation Authority, which publishes aggregated statistics on punctuality for all flights taking off or landing at major UK airports.

The BBC has combined the CAA's data for June, July and August of 2015 and 2016 and used this to calculate the average (i.e. mean) delay per flight across these months for all routes listed in the data.

Routes with fewer than 50 flights over this period were excluded, as were airlines that registered no flight data for the summer months of 2016 (even if they had been active in 2015). Chartered flights were not distinguished from scheduled flights in the calculations for airlines that fly both categories on the same route.

The data for outbound delays is based on the time the aeroplane takes off from the UK runway, and the data for return delays is based on the time the aeroplane arrives back on the UK runway.

Flights that take off or land early are recorded as having a delay of zero minutes.

Produced by Ryan Watts, Ed Lowther, Nassos Stylianou, Ransome Mpini, Daniel Dunford, Gerry Fletcher, Becky Rush, Joe Reed, and Kevin Peachey.

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