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A third of UK air passengers suffered delays or cancellations in 2023

Last year saw travel chaos at UK airports (Getty Images)
Last year saw travel chaos at UK airports (Getty Images)

More than 45 million fliers across the UK faced disruption when travelling on a plane in 2023, a passenger rights organisation has revealed.

Data from AirHelp found that 34 per cent of the 131 million passengers travelling last year were held up, with 3.8 million people having their flights cancelled altogether.

London Gatwick was ranked the worst offender when it came to disruption, with 42 per cent of passengers affected, while London Stansted came in a close second with a 39 per cent disruption rate. The most punctual airport was Durham Tees Valley Airport, where just 19 per cent of flights were disrupted.

UK airports faced numerous challenges in 2023, with ongoing strikes across Europe, air traffic control failures and extreme weather conditions resulting in a chaotic year for travel.

The AirHelp research ranked London Gatwick to Jeddah Saudi Arabia as the most disrupted route, with 91 per cent of flights affected by delays or cancellations. Routes from London Heathrow to Portland International Airport and Bermuda Airport were the second and third least punctual – 73 per cent and 71 per cent of flights were disrupted respectively.

The least disrupted route was Edinburgh Airport to Dusseldorf International Airport, with over 94 per cent of flights departing on time in 2023.

London Heathrow to Tan Son Nhat International Airport was ranked second best in terms of punctuality, with 93 per cent of flights leaving on time, while London Heathrow Airport to Kuala Lumpur International Airport and London Luton to Lublin Airport came in third, both enjoying 92 per cent punctuality rates.

EU Law stipulates that if your flight is disrupted – including flight delays, cancellations, and denied boarding – you have the right to compensation.

Under EU Regulation 261/2004, when a flight lands at its destination more than three hours late, fliers are entitled to between €250 and €600 per passenger. The amount depends on the length of the flight and the extent of the delay. Airlines must also provide assistance and care, including food, drinks and hotel accommodation.

However, airlines do not have to pay out if the delay or cancellation is due to “extraordinary circumstances”, such as bad weather or air traffic control strikes.