Heathrow Airport second-worst in UK for flight cancellations

Image above: Heathrow Airport; library image

Heathrow Airport has been identified as the second-worst airport in the UK for flight cancellations, according to the latest research by tax specialists, RIFT.

According to the research, Heathrow remains the country’s busiest major airport and Glasgow has the highest rate of flight cancellations.

RIFT conducted an analysis of the annual number of flights and cancellations at the top 10 busiest airports in the UK to assess their efficiency in serving passengers. In 2022, these airports collectively served 221.8 million passengers.

Out of this total, Heathrow saw 28% (61.6 million) of passengers pass through its gates, solidifying its position as the nation’s busiest airport. Gatwick followed with 32.8 million passengers (15%), while Manchester and Stansted each served an estimated 23.3 million passengers (11%).

When it comes to flight cancellations, Glasgow Airport topped the list. In 2022, 2.5% of all flights from Glasgow were cancelled, resulting in nearly 1,500 cancellations. Heathrow ranked second with a cancellation rate of 1.7%, equivalent to 6,391 flights out of 367,000 scheduled departures.

Gatwick (3,472) and Edinburgh (1,363) also experienced a high number of cancellations, with 1.6% of flights affected. On the other hand, Birmingham Airport demonstrated greater reliability, managing a cancellation rate of just 0.6%, which translates to fewer than 400 flights out of nearly 69,000 handled in 2022.

Image above: British Airways check-in at Heathrow Airport

What rights do I have if my flight is cancelled?

In the event of a flight cancellation, passengers have legal rights. They are entitled to a full refund or a replacement flight to their intended destination. If the cancelled flight is part of a connecting journey, passengers also have the right to a free flight back to the original airport of departure.

Additionally, if a cancellation results in a delay exceeding two hours and occurs less than 14 days before the scheduled departure, passengers are entitled to compensation for additional costs such as food and accommodation.

The compensation amount ranges from £100 to £500, depending on the distance the cancelled flight was supposed to cover and the length of the delay upon arrival.

While flight cancellations are a common cause of frustration, passport issues are more frequently responsible for holiday disruptions.  The timeline for receiving a new passport is typically 12-29 days after submitting the application, but the HM Passport Office recommends allowing for a waiting time of 10 weeks.

Moreover, even if a passport is within its expiry date, it may still be invalid depending on the chosen destination. Popular destinations such as Spain, Greece, Italy, and France require passports to have at least three months of remaining validity.

Passenger errors more likely than airline errors 

Bradley Post, MD of RIFT, commented:

“Given how many flights leave UK airports every day, it’s fair to say that the industry is highly efficient and reliable with cancellations kept at a minimum.

“In fact, if your holiday is going to get scuppered at the airport, it’s far more likely to be a passenger error than an airline error. Forgotten passports and out of date passports are always going to be leading contributors to ruined holidays.

“You’ve got to double check your passport well before you travel. And don’t forget, when a flight is cancelled by the airline, there’s a good chance of getting your money back. But if it’s your own fault that you can’t travel as planned, you’re not going to get any compensation whatsoever.”