Revealed: the worst airlines for flight delays, and your rights if affected

One airline has been named the worst airline for flight delays for the second year in a row, with four other airlines also criticised. What are your rights if your flight is delayed?

Wizz Air plane landing at airport
(Image credit: NurPhoto)

New data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows Wizz Air is the worst airline for delaying flights, followed by four other popular airlines. 

The data found that the Hungarian carrier’s UK departures were 46 minutes and six seconds behind schedule, on average, in 2022. 

That’s three times longer than the previous year when Wizz Air was again crowned the worst airline for flight delays in 2021. 

The research by the CAA considered all scheduled and chartered flights from UK airports, including Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Luton and Liverpool.

It found an average 23-minute delay time for all of these flights (cancelled flights were not included). 

While Wizz Air took the top spot, four other airlines followed with high flight delay times.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Airline Average flight delay time
Wizz Air46 minutes and six seconds
Tui40 minutes and 18 seconds
Qatar 31 minutes and 48 seconds
Turkish Airlines 29 minutes and 30 seconds
Pegasus Airlines27 minutes and 18 seconds

The data also revealed that May and June 2022 were the worst months for flight delays, which were down to the surge in booked holidays after the Covid-19 travel rules ended and not enough staff to cope with the demand. 

The CAA has said it has already expressed its concern about Wizz Air and is “working closely with the airline to improve outcomes for consumers."

What are my rights if my flight is delayed?

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, it’s important to know your rights, what your travel insurance covers and if you can get your money back. 

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, says: “If your flight is significantly delayed, usually by two hours or more, your airline should also provide assistance including free meals or refreshments, or overnight accommodation if required”. Refreshments can be given in the form of meal vouchers. If you don’t receive this, it’s worth asking a member of staff as this is better than a random dish being given to you. 

Rory adds: “If your flight is delayed by more than five hours, you have the same rights as if you had suffered a cancellation, and can request a refund or rebooking.”

In this case, you might need overnight accommodation, which the airline should organise for you. They should also organise travel to and from the hotel to the airport.

Remember though you're only likely to get compensation if the delay is the airline’s fault — staff issues, for example, or a technical fault — not if the delay is due to a factor outside their control, storms or security issues.

Does my travel insurance cover me?

When it comes to flight delays, there’s not much you can do under your travel insurance as your travel insurer will normally tell you to get the airline to cover the cost of any delays or cancellations. 

If the delay or cancellation means you have missed an event or trip which has caused you a financial loss, you could recover some of these costs from your travel insurance policy. 

But, to do this you will need to ensure you have missed flight departure cover on your policy. 

Can I claim compensation for a delayed flight?

Under the EU 262 regulation, you may be able to claim compensation for a flight delay if your flight is departing from the UK, or arriving in the UK on an EU or UK-based airline.

Anything more than a three-hour delay could be compensated if your flight meets the above conditions, but this will also depend on the duration of travel and the distance travelled. 

Delays are calculated from the arrival time, not the scheduled departure time. As a rough price point, you could get between £220 for a short-haul flight and up to £520 for a long-haul flight.

Read next

Vaishali Varu
Staff Writer

Vaishali graduated in journalism from Leeds University. She has gained experience writing local stories around Leeds and Leicester, which includes writing for a university publication and Leicester Mercury. 

She has also done some marketing and copywriting for businesses.

When she is not writing about personal finance, Vaishali likes to travel and she's a foodie.