43 million air passenger journeys delayed

New Which? analysis shows that almost a quarter (24%) of the 1.9 million flights to or from the UK between April 2015 and March 2016 were delayed by 15 minutes or more, affecting around 43 million passenger journeys.

Of the 449,000 flights, over 10,000 were more than three hours late, leaving up to a million passengers potentially in line for compensation under the current EU Denied Boarding Regulation. However, where flights are delayed due to factors such as extreme weather or airport strikes, they’re unlikely to get compensation.

Compensation is also dependent on how long the delay is and how far you are flying. Long haul travellers could be entitled to £250 (€300) if their plane landed between three or four hours late, or £510 (€600) if their flight was at least four hours behind schedule. Our analysis showed that 183,000 long haul passenger journeys were delayed by at least three hours.

Passengers flying short haul are also potentially eligible to claim up to £210 (€250) if they were delayed by more than three hours. We found that 729,000 short haul passenger journeys were affected by such a delay over the period we analysed.

Which? also found:

  • Southend Airport was named as the location where passengers were most likely to be delayed on short haul flights. 1.7% of journeys were delayed by three hours or more.
  • Gatwick and Manchester Airports suffered the most delays to long haul journeys, with 1.3% of journeys delayed beyond three hours.
  • Vueling (1.9%), Loganair (1.6%) and Auringny (1.3%) are named as the airlines with the highest percentage of delays of three hours or more to their short haul flights.
  • Well known operators Thomas Cook (6th), easyJet (10th), and Thomson Airways (11th) also performed poorly in the short haul delay rankings.
  • Passengers travelling with Pakistan International Airlines (4.2%), Air India (3.7%) and US Airways (2.1%) are most likely to face three hour delays on long haul flights. The average delay time for a Pakistan International Airlines flight was nearly 45 minutes.

Passengers looking to claim compensation for a delayed flight can use the Which? guide and letter template to help claim compensation: www.which.co.uk/flightrights. This is a free tool, so travellers who successfully claim compensation using Which? help won’t have to share part of their refund with claims management companies.

Alex Neill, Which? Director of Policy and Campaigns, said:
“Arriving at the airport to discover your flight has been delayed is incredibly frustrating, and something thousands of holidaymakers will encounter this summer.

“We know that tens of thousands of passengers on late running flights aren’t claiming the compensation they’re due and so we encourage people to claim what they’re rightly entitled to.”

Your flight delay rights explained:

  • You will be covered by the Denied Boarding Regulation if you are travelling from or to an EU airport, on an airline based in the EU.
  • If your flight is delayed, you may be entitled to meals, refreshments, phone calls and emails. You could also be entitled to overnight accommodation, depending on the circumstances.
  • You can also claim for compensation, but this won’t be due if the airline can prove the delay or cancellation was caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’.
  • Your entitlement to compensation will depend on how long the delay is and how far you are flying.

Notes to editors

  1. Methodology for number of flight delays: Calculations are based on overall amount of flights delayed by three hours or more from Civil Aviation Authority data. Some of these delays of three hours or more may have been caused by “extraordinary circumstances” and therefore would not have been eligible for compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004. The number of flights delayed by “extraordinary circumstances” is not collected centrally.
  2. Methodology for passenger numbers: Throughout this analysis, numbers of passenger journeys have been calculated by multiplying the number of flights by an average number of passengers per flight, which is 96. This in turn was calculated by summing together visits abroad by UK residents, visits to the UK by non-UK residents as per the ONS International Passenger Survey 2015, together with an adjustment for domestic passenger journeys, then dividing by the total number of flights from CAA punctuality data.
  3. Methodology for the tables: Our figures are based on the most recent CAA Punctuality data available (April 2015 to March 2016). Short haul airlines and airports needed to run at least 3,650 flights (10 outbound or return per day) to be included in our analysis. For long haul, the minimum number of flights required was 1,825 flights (five outbound or return per day).
  4. Although there will likely be no change to the right to claim compensation Denied Boarding Regulations for flight delays until the UK officially leaves the EU, what happens after that point will be dependent on the Brexit negotiations.
  5. Under EU law, airlines may have to provide compensation if your long-haul flight covering over 3,500km arrives at its destination more than three hours late.
  6. Under EU law, airlines may have to provide compensation if your medium-haul flight covering 1,500km – 3,500km arrives at its destination more than three hours late.
  7. Under EU law, airlines may have to provide compensation if your short-haul flight covering under 1,500km arrives at its destination more than three hours late.
  8. The Which? tool to claim compensation has been used more than 20,000 times to start a compensation claim for flight delays or cancellations.

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