Delayed airline passengers missing out on compensation

Which? has revealed that in a year 37 million passenger journeys to or from the UK were delayed by 15 minutes or more. With more than 9,000 flights delayed for three hours or more, around 900,000 passengers are potentially eligible to receive compensation.

A Which? investigation found that only four in 10 (38%) claimed compensation following a delay, which means consumers could be missing out on millions of pounds. Passengers travelling within the European Union who are delayed for more than three hours could be entitled to up to €400 in compensation, which rises to up to €600 if the journey is over 3,500km.

We analysed over 1.7 million flights and assessed the data to work out the worst offenders based on the proportion of flights that were delayed by three hours or more, and found:

  • The worst UK airport for delays of three hours or more was Gatwick, with 2,134 flights (200,000 passenger journeys).
  • Passengers on short haul flights are most likely to experience delays of over three hours if travelling with Vueling, Monarch or Thomas Cook, who together accounted for over 700 delayed flights (68,000 passenger journeys).
  • For long haul flights, passengers were more likely to be delayed by three hours or more with Pakistan International Airlines, Air India or American Airlines who together accounted for over 400 affected flights (40,500 passenger journeys).

The three largest airlines operating in the UK (Easyjet, BA and Ryanair), who operated nearly half (48%) of all flights during the period we analysed accounted for four in 10 (44%) delays over three hours; this figure, considered as a proportion of delayed flights, was around the industry average.

Half of those delayed said they received no support or information about the delay from the airline. When passengers suffer a flight delay this summer, Which? can help. Our expert tips, advice and complaints tool are freely available to affected travellers, guiding people through the airline compensation claim process and informing them of their rights. Our advice is free, so travellers who claim compensation using our tools won’t have to share a refund with Claims Management Companies.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said:

“Flight delays are a disappointing and stressful reality for people travelling abroad this summer. The last thing you need is a long wait at the airport, but sadly this is going to be the case for many holidaymakers.

“We are urging people to hold their airline to account and claim the compensation they are rightly owed if they have a lengthy delay.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Methodology for number of flight delays:Calculations are based on overall amount of flights delayed by three hours or more delays from the Civil Aviation Authority data. Some of these delays of three hours or more would have been caused by “extraordinary circumstances” and therefore would not have been eligible for compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004. The amount 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 flights by an average number of passengers per flight of 97. 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 2014, together with an adjustment for domestic passenger journeys, then dividing by the total number of flights from the CAA punctuality data.
  3. Consumer insight from January 2015:We surveyed 7,729 Which? members in October 2014 to find out about their experience of flying with an airline from a UK airport.
  4. Methodology for the tables:Our figures are based on the most recent CAA Punctuality data available (June 2014 to May 2015). 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).
  5. Letter to request compensation for a delayed flight –
  6. Letter to request compensation for a cancelled flight –


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