How long could my summer holiday flight be delayed?


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Air passengers leaving Gatwick have suffered the longest average delays during summer getaways from major UK airports, BBC analysis reveals.

Those travelling to and from the UK on EasyJet flights have waited the longest among the 10 busiest airlines.

Figures collected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) during the last two summers reveal the typical delays.

Flyers using EasyJet had an average delay of 24 minutes, and those leaving from Gatwick waited 27 minutes.

Both said they appeared at the top of the delay list partly as a result of having among the most flights to and from Europe, and many delays were beyond their control.


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.

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.

EasyJet has the longest average delay at 24 minutes when taking all summer flights into consideration, whether delayed or not, for the busiest airlines in June to August for the last two years. Aer Lingus delays were half that length, at 12 minutes.

This chart shows the average delay per journey for the 10 airlines with the greatest number of flights from or to the UK over the last two summers.

Past performance will not necessarily be repeated during this and future summers.

An EasyJet spokeswoman said: "EasyJet operates the largest number of flights of any UK airline, flying over 78 million passengers per year. In 2017, EasyJet will operate 33% more flights than in 2011, with less than 0.8% delayed by more than three hours.

"In fact, despite a number of adverse external factors like increasingly congested airspace, particularly in the London area, and record numbers of air traffic control strikes, over the last year, EasyJet has actually reduced the proportion of flights delayed by more than three hours.

"We work hard to minimise disruption and fully comply with all relevant regulations."


While Gatwick had the longest average delay per outbound flight, the data reveals that travellers were less likely to experience departure delays at smaller UK airports.

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A spokesperson for Gatwick Airport said it had more flights to Europe than any other UK airport, and was impacted disproportionately by events on the continent. He said the airport was calling on UK and European authorities to accelerate plans to increase the efficiency of UK and European airspace.

"We recognise the inconvenience that delays cause to our passengers, and we will continue to do everything possible to prevent them from occurring," he said.

"We operate the world's busiest and most efficient single runway airport, but, over recent years, Gatwick has been disproportionately affected by issues beyond our control.

"These include repeated strike action by French, Greek, Spanish and Italian air traffic controllers and airport employees, prolonged bad weather, and heavily congested airspace above parts of Europe and London.

"Gatwick has made it a priority to address punctuality and, in partnership with our airlines and ground handlers, we are already seeing the benefits of a new wide range of measures that have been implemented to improve punctuality."

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

Alex Neill, from the consumer organisation, Which?, said airlines should offer compensation, rather than wait for customers to come to them: "If you're unlucky enough to experience a severe delay, compensation could be available and people should claim what they're entitled to.

"We want to see airlines introduce automatic compensation where possible so that passengers can quickly and simply receive the money they are owed."

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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