What Are the Odds of Your Flight From the UK Being Cancelled?
For the first time in a long time, holidaymakers in 2022 expect to return to some kind of normality.
This summer many have booked or are planning to book getaways now that travel restrictions have been lifted, but flight cancellations and delays have hit the UK especially hard.
The industry as a whole is trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but some UK airports and airlines, such as Easyjet, have had more problems than others. We at CasinoSource have dived into the official aviation statistics to see:
- The worst airlines for flight delays and cancellations
- The worst UK airports for flight delays and cancellations
- How to deal with a cancellation or delay
- How strikes by workers will affect your flight
Read on the find out the chances of a cancelled flight affecting you this summer.
- ✅ UK Airport Statistics Summer 2022
- ✅ Worst UK Regions for Flight Cancellations and Delays
- ✅ Worst UK Airports for Flight Delays
- ✅ UK Airlines: Delays and Cancellations Statistics
- ✅ Easyjet and British Airways UK Flight Cancellations
- ✅ The Most On-Time UK Airlines
- ✅ What happens if my flight is cancelled in the UK?
UK Airport Statistics Summer 2022
Heathrow is the top UK airport with a third of the flight departures in the whole country, a total of 30.1% of all British passengers overall.
For its size, you’d expect plenty of opportunity for flight woes, and it does have a high percentage of cancellations, 2.27% of flights cancelled. However, it was not the worst-performing London airport.
Gatwick Airport got bad marks overall with the most flight delays and cancellations in the country, as well as London. Stanstead is the most reliable London airport, with just 0.35% of flights being cancelled.
It is worth noting that Gatwick announced it would cut back the number of summer flights overall because of staff shortages.
Worst UK Regions for Flight Cancellations and Delays
Manchester Airport has the highest passenger numbers outside of the London airports, with 14,706 departing passengers last month. It also holds the dubious crown of being the Northern airport most likely to suffer from flight cancellations.
In the north of England, passengers leaving from Manchester Airport are most likely to suffer from cancelled flights while Newcastle Airport is the airport with the least reported cancellations.
Worst UK Airports for Flight Delays
Being delayed can cause just as much disruption to a holiday. We looked at the latest available data for flight delays across UK airports and found that four London airports topped the list, with Gatwick being the worst for flight delays.
After Gatwick, Southend, London City, and Heathrow Airport respectively were the worst for flight delays in 2020. The longest average delay was at Gatwick: 9.9 minutes.
However, this was an average for the entire year and it’s likely that the average summer holidaymaker will wait much longer than that for a delayed flight. We at CasinoSource looked at the delay data and the average flight delay in a 24 period across the last 30 days at Gatwick was 35 minutes.
From the regional airports, the worst airports for flight delays outside of London were regional hubs Leeds Bradford Airport and Birmingham Airport, with an average of 8.8 minutes and 8.2 minutes delay respectively.
UK Airlines: Delays and Cancellations Statistics
A lot of factors go into flight cancellations. Other than the airport, a defining factor is which airline a person chooses to fly. Budget airlines and airlines that offer cheap package holidays are the most popular, but are they also the most unreliable?
TUI, Ryanair, and Jet2 are some common choices. Let’s see how they stack up and if they are among the top airlines that are likely to cancel flights this summer.
One way to measure this is by the on-time arrival data available. This is how the top three holiday airlines performed in the last month.
Ryanair had the least delays out of the budget airlines and that makes it the top choice for flyers who want to arrive at their holiday destination on time.
Flights that depart or arrive within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival or departure time are considered on time. Arriving or departing 15 minutes or later than scheduled is considered late.
It is expected that there will be fewer flights departing this summer from hubs like Gatwick Airport as airlines cut back. It remains to be seen if this will have a positive effect on flight delays.
Easyjet and British Airways UK Flight Cancellations
Easyjet confirmed recently that it already cut thousands of its own flights scheduled for this summer. Gatwick, one of the main UK departure airports that Easyjet flies from, also recently announced that it has slashed the total number of summer flights it would allow to fly from its hub.
British Airways cancelled 650 flights from two London airports, Heathrow and Gatwick. In total, so far BA has effectively removed 2.8 million seats from the market over June to October, which is around 10% of every planned departure. It was reported that rolling cancellations would continue.
The airlines were thought to be taking advantage of an airport slot amnesty that would end on July 8. Brought in to make airlines publish more “realistic” schedules, it means the airlines could cancel their allotted departures without penalty.
The Most On-Time UK Airlines
In the list of most punctual airlines in the UK, Ryanair also made it into the top three. Irish carrier Aer Lingus was the most on-time airline, Channel Islands carrier Blue Island second most, then Ryanair. British Airways was the fourth most punctual airline.
What happens if my flight is cancelled in the UK?
UK flight cancellations and delays are covered by rules for compensation that range from free food and drink all the way to a full refund. Airlines don’t make it easy to find the information, so here’s a simple breakdown.
When a Flight Is Cancelled
Under the law, a passenger can choose from a number of options.
The first option is to choose to get another flight to their destination. The airline must give the option of the earliest alternative flight. Moreover, you are entitled legally to assistance with expenditures if the alternative flight offered will cause you to be delayed by at least two hours.
Also, passengers who have already started their trip and don't want a replacement flight to get them to their destination also have a right to a flight back to the airport from which they initially departed.
Say for example there is a passenger flying from Manchester Airport to Tenerife with a transfer in Paris. If the airline cancels the flight from Paris to Tenerife, the passenger is entitled to a flight back to their departure airport, Manchester, for free.
The second option is to get a total refund, including the cost of any flights offered by the airline but not used as part of the original reservation.
The right to compensation applies when the airline cancels the flight with less than two weeks' notice or the replacement flight makes a passenger more than 2 hours late compared to their expected arrival time.
The lowest compensation an airline is legally obliged to offer is £110. This applies to cancelled flights which have a flight distance of 1,500 kilometres or less. Passengers can be compensated up to £520 for flights with a flight distance of over 3,500 kilometres.
When can an airline refuse to give compensation?
The airline will not pay for the cancellation of a hotel booking or any other travel reservations if the flight is cancelled for reasons beyond its control.
However, if someone has purchased comprehensive travel insurance when they made their reservation, any flight delays ought to be covered, and the travel insurance company ought to be able to reimburse them for the majority of the costs associated with cancelling the trip.
When a Flight Is Delayed
When a flight is delayed the airline has to provide passengers with food and drink, and accommodation like a hotel if the delay is overnight. If the passengers are at the airport they could be offered a voucher for these items, and if they are not, they should ask an airline representative.
Even if an airline does not offer this on the spot, passengers should keep receipts for any costs incurred. Airlines must pay for any reasonable expenses incurred.
What flights are eligible to claim compensation?
- Any airline departing from the UK
- Any UK or EU airline arriving in the UK
- Any UK airline entering the EU
European holidays are covered by the EC 261 air passenger protection regulation. In practice, EC 261 protects you if your flight originated in an EU airport or if you were travelling to Europe on an EU airline. So, if you were flying to Spain from the UK for example, the regulation would protect you and your rights.
The CAA statistics for the first quarter of 2022 show the exact number of complaints it received under this regulation. The airline with the highest number of complaints was Ryanair, with 713 complaints. Runners-up were British Airways: 599 complaints, and Easyjet: 373 complaints.
How to Claim Compensation From an Airline
In order to claim compensation look for the airline’s contact information on its website. If it is not possible to contact the airline on the spot then a passenger should leave the airport and try to contact the airline by phone or email later.
Having the flight booking reference number and other details are a must when contacting the airline’s customer service. Airlines that refuse to give passengers compensation can be reported to the Civil Aviation Authority.
Before escalating the complaint, a passenger should check if the airline is a member of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body and complain to them first.
What do you do if none of the above applies to you? In that case, a passenger will need to contact the airline directly. Rules applying to, for example, American airlines, would differ from the ones covering UK and European flights.
Many consumers also do not know about the Section 75 loophole. If a passenger paid with a credit card, under this section of the Consumer Credit Act, the card company is equally responsible for the goods and services bought. The only requirement is that the purchase is over £100.
Cancelled Flights and Who’s Responsible: Why Are UK Flights Being Cancelled So Much?
So many flights suffered from the recent half-term travel chaos that the UK government tried to intervene to prevent the same from happening for the summer season. Airports like Heathrow have complained of staff shortages that make smooth operations near impossible.
Strikes and Labour Woes Hit UK Air Industry
One group of workers that is confirmed to strike is the airport’s fuel workers. The Unite Union, which represents the Heathrow workers, has confirmed that at least 50 staff will walk out. The strike is planned for three days starting Thursday 21 July.
This coincides exactly with the start of British schools' summer holidays and is sure to cause parents and families further disruption over that weekend and beyond. Experts at aviation industry organization Simple Flying predicted that 70 airlines would be affected across the board.
Strikes are being threatened by British Airways staff, and at 16,000 strong, this could have a massive knock-on effect on an already struggling industry. A total of 700 check-in and ground handling workers at Heathrow have already planned a walkout.
Unions and pay demands also had an effect on the resignation of Easyjet's chief operating officer, Peter Bellew, on 4 July. Prior to his departure, it was reported that he disagreed with the handling of union pay disputes.
What’s more, air travel is an interconnected industry so it’s not just the UK that has to be looked at when considering air chaos. European air travel staff are also planning strikes in the near future.
In France, three airports are threatened by Ryanair staff strikes, adding to woes from industrial action by Easyjet’s French pilots and French airport staff already planned for July. Scandinavian airline SAS are currently in talks with pilots over wage increases to prevent strikes.
As the cost of living increases, more workers in the airline industry have become fed up, especially after dealing with layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This discontent is sure to continue throughout 2022.
What is being done to fix things?
The UK government announced a plan on 30 June to tackle disruption across the summer holidays. The intention is to protect flyers from airline chaos but also to make the airlines provide realistic expectations for flights.
As a part of its 22-point plan the government has set forth:
- A new Aviation Passenger Charter explaining passenger rights.
- Stronger consumer protection suggestions like additional enforcement powers for the Civil Aviation Authority.
- Changes in the law so the industry can quickly and flexibly hire more staff without compromising on security.
- Working with European aviation partners like EUROCONTROL, the continent’s air traffic control body.
Methodology and Sources
- Official Aviation Guide (OAG), Monthly on-time performance flight statistics, May 2022
- Statista, UK’s most punctual airlines May 2021
- Statista, Top UK airports with flight delays 2020
- Civil Aviation Authority, Guide to claiming for costs and compensation
- Civil Aviation Authority, UK passenger complaints 2022
- Department for Transport UK, Government 22-point plan to tackle aviation disruption