December worst month for the longest flight delays

Which? analysis of flight data reveals that 3.5m passenger journeys were delayed by 15 minutes or more in December last year, whilst 96,000 passengers were delayed by three hours or more.

Some four million people from the UK are expected to travel abroad over Christmas, according to the Association of British Travel Agents, but if you’re jetting off on a festive getaway then you could be in for a lengthy wait as December had the highest proportion of delayed flights by three hours or more in the year to August (equating to 96,000 passenger journeys).

Our analysis also showed that the worst UK airports for proportion of flights delayed by three hours or more over this period were Gatwick (23,862 passenger journeys delayed), Bristol Airport with (3,783) and Liverpool John Lennon (2,425).

As part of the Denied Boarding Regulations, passengers are able to claim compensation for flights that are cancelled or delayed by three hours or more.

People have told us some airlines however are not providing support or information to passengers on how they can claim and the majority of airlines have not signed up to the Aviation Ombudsman’s, Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme, which helps passengers in dispute with airlines get a quick and fair solution to their problem.

Which? has free advice on your rights on flight delays and help to claim compensation. Our free delay and cancellation compensation tools have already been used by over 9,000 passengers since August.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“Flight delays are infuriating for passengers and the last thing people want over the festive period is to be stuck in airport departure lounges, but if you’re flying in December this could well be the reality.

“We want to see all airlines signing up to the ombudsman’s redress scheme to help ensure passengers get compensation when flights are delayed.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Which? consumer rights advice on how to claim compensation for a delayed plane journey can be found here:
  2. Flight delays were calculated from CAA flight punctuality data (June 2014 to August 2015) and ONS International Passenger Survey (2014). Average passengers per flight were derived by taking the total passenger journeys (with adjustment for domestic flights) from IPS(2014), divided by total CAA flights recorded (CAA punctuality data June 2014 – May 2015).0.7% of all flights were delayed in December 2014, compared to the annual average of 0.5% (June 2014 to August 2015). 27% of flights were delayed by 15minutes or more in December 2014 compared to an annual average of 23% (June 2014 to August 2015).


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