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Revealed: the UK’s worst airports for flight delays - here's how you can claim compensation

Nic McBride

Nic McBride
May 22, 2018

If you’re hoping to avoid delays on your next flight, you might want to skip London’s Luton airport.

The worst UK airports for flight punctuality have been revealed, with Luton beating Gatwick for having the longest average delays in 2017.


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Luton’s average delay was nearly 20 minutes, ahead of Gatwick’s near 19 minute delay, according to a Press Association analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data.

It’s almost double that of Heathrow Airport, which had the shortest delays in the country at 11 minutes.

Scroll down to see where your local airport finished

The ranking takes into account every scheduled and charter flight from 25 of the UK’s major airports. Cancelled flights were not included.

The average delay across all featured airports was 15 minutes.

The findings would allow passengers to “make informed choices about which airports they fly from”, a CAA spokesman said.

“The aviation industry should constantly strive to improve punctuality to enhance the passenger experience,” he added.

A spokesman for the Airport Operators Association said “outdated” airspace infrastructure limited the efficiency of flights.

A spokeswoman for Luton Airport said: “We regret any delay our passengers experience.”

Delays were influenced by many factors outside their control, such as air traffic control strikes, late arriving aircraft, bad weather and congested airspace.

Gatwick Airport stated it was doing “everything within its power” to improve the proportion of its flights that departed on time.

This included using new technology to predict and recover from late-running flights and speeding up the time it took to turn around inbound aircraft.


The average delay for all departures from the UK’s 25 busiest airports in 2017

  1. London Luton 19.7 mins
    2. London Gatwick 18.9 mins
    3. Jersey 18.7 mins
    4. Durham Tees Valley 18.6 mins
    5. Birmingham 18.2 mins
    6. Bristol 17.6 mins
    7. Belfast International 16.7 mins = Manchester 16.7 mins = London Stansted 16.7 mins
    10. Aberdeen 16.1 mins
    11. Edinburgh 15.8 mins
    12. Cardiff 15.7 mins
    13. Glasgow 15.0 mins
    14. Doncaster Sheffield 14.3 mins
    15. Liverpool 14.0 mins
    16. London Southend 13.5 mins = Southampton 13.5 mins
    18. East Midlands International 13.3 mins
    19. Newcastle 12.8 mins
    20. Bournemouth 12.3 mins
    21. Exeter 11.9 mins
    22. London City 11.6 mins
    23. Belfast City 11.3 mins = Leeds Bradford 11.3 mins
    25. London Heathrow 11.0 mins


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What are you entitled to if your flight is delayed

If your flight is delayed for more than two hours, airlines have to provide free access to emails or phone calls, meals and refreshments, as well as hotel accommodation if an overnight stay is required.



Your flight has to be delayed by more than three hours for you to claim financial compensation.

You can’t claim compensation in cases of “extraordinary circumstances” such as severe weather, a security alert, or a strike.

Passengers on delayed flights from UK airports are entitled to assistance and compensation depending on the cause and length of the disruption.

Payouts range from €250 (£219) to €600 (£525) depending on the length of the flight and how long it was delayed.

Get the detailed amounts in our flight delay guide here.


Thomson passenger made to wait 10 months for flight delay refund...until we step in

Just because you’re entitled to compensation, doesn’t mean it is always forthcoming - ask Susan Cushing.

In September 2016, Susan’s Thomson flight to Crete was delayed for 24 hours.

Under EU law, the delay to the 4,000km flight meant Susan was entitled to a full refund. She first complained to the airline in early October 2016.

But nearly ten months on and she was still waiting for her money.

“The length of time I was made to wait is not acceptable,” Susan said, “Thomson told me that they had no time scale to work to and that I would just have to wait to hear from them

“It’s ridiculous.”

Susan would, she says, still be waiting for the £351 she’s entitled to had A Spokesman Said not fought her corner.

“I am very grateful to A Spokesman Said who were able to resolve this issue within two days of me contacting them.

“I received a phone call from Thomson; they apologised for the delay and informed me that my claim had been processed and payment would be sent out in the post.”