Going on holiday? These are the worst UK airports for flight delays

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
The airports with the longest delays in the UK have been revealed (PA)

A delayed flight can set a holiday off to a very bad start but statistics have shown which UK airports are more reliable than others.

The unwanted honour of the airport with the worst flight punctuality goes to London Luton, with departures from the Bedfordshire airport standing an average of 20 minutes late in 2017.

According Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data, London Gatwick recorded the second worst punctuality performance followed by Jersey and Durham Tees Valley.

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

The average delay across all the featured airports was 15 minutes.

The longest delays were recorded at London Luton Airport (Rex)

On the other end of the scale, London Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, was found to have the best performance, with aircraft typically taking off 11 minutes late.

Leeds Bradford had the second best record, followed by Belfast City and London City.

A spokeswoman for London Luton said: ‘We regret any delay our passengers experience.’


She added that punctuality was influenced by ‘many factors’ outside its control such as air traffic control strikes, late arriving aircraft, bad weather and congested airspace.

Gatwick declared it is doing ‘everything within its power’ to improve the proportion of its flights that depart on time, including using new technology to predict and recover from late running flights and speeding up the time it takes to turn around inbound aircraft.

Punctuality data enables passengers to ‘make informed choices about which airports they fly from’, a CAA spokesman said.

Gatwick Airport came in second place on the list (Rex)

He added: ‘The aviation industry should constantly strive to improve punctuality to enhance the passenger experience.’

A spokesman for the Airport Operators Association (AOA) said: ‘The UK needs to modernise its airspace.

‘Airports are working with air traffic service providers and the Government to plan and deliver the necessary changes so everyone can continue to fly with a minimum of delays.’

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

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

London Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, was found to have the best performance (Rex)

Passengers can also claim compensation when flights are delayed by more than three hours unless there are ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as severe weather or a security alert.

Payouts range from 250 euro (£219) to 600 euro (£524) depending on the length of the flight and how long it was delayed.

Average delay for all departures from 25 of the UK’s 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