Worst airports for delays in UK as Birmingham Airport has longest waits - full list of best to worst airports

Birmingham Airport has been ranked the worst in the UK for delays for two years running.
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Birmingham Airport has been ranked the worst in the UK for flight delays for two consecutive years. According to analysis of the  Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) records, the West Midlands airport’s departures ran half an hour behind schedule on average in 2022.

Trailing closely behind were the now-closed Doncaster Sheffield Airport and Manchester Airport, both with an average delay of 29 minutes. Despite the latest ranking, Birmingham Airport said it was "running smoothly" this year.

The analysis, which did not include cancelled flights, found the worst months for delays were May and June, when the aviation sector failed to recruit and train enough staff to cope with a surge in demand for holidays. Passengers also reported having to spend hours in long queues for check-in and security in Birmingham last year.

According to the study, the average wait duration of half an hour is more than double the airport’s 2021 average delay time of 12 minutes and 24 seconds. Meanwhile, East Midlands Airport was found to be the best for little disruption, with an average delay of 13 minutes.

The average delay across all airports was 23 minutes. The analysis took into account all scheduled and chartered departures and cancelled flights were not included. When flights are significantly delayed, airlines are required under consumer laws to provide passengers with assistance, which can include refreshments, a means of communication and accommodation if required.

If the reason for the interruption is within an airline’s control, travellers are entitled to up to £520 in compensation, depending on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight. Last year alone, some 10.3 million passengers travelled through Birmingham airport, making it the seventh busiest in the UK.

A Birmingham airport spokesman said: “The start of 2022 was devastated by Covid. After travel restrictions were lifted, the aviation industry fought hard to recover. This year, the first since 2020 not impacted by Covid, our airport is running smoothly with customers set to equal or exceed pre-pandemic numbers.”

They said customers using Birmingham airport this summer can expect changes to walking routes through a brand-new security hall, which is set to be ready for June 2024.

Birmingham Airport has been ranked the worst in the UK for delays for two years running. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)Birmingham Airport has been ranked the worst in the UK for delays for two years running. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Birmingham Airport has been ranked the worst in the UK for delays for two years running. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said: “Your choice of airport shouldn’t make or break your trip, but for too many travellers last year that was sadly their experience.

“A repeat of last year’s chaos cannot be allowed to stand again, and airports and airlines must ensure they’re working together to ensure they can deliver their summer schedules as promised, while the Government must urgently grant the CAA the powers it needs to hold the industry to account.

“With at least some level of disruption sadly probable as we head into another busy travel season, airports’ delay records are something some travellers may well want to take into consideration, even if that involves travelling slightly further from home.”

Birmingham Airport has been ranked the worst in the UK for delays for two years running. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)Birmingham Airport has been ranked the worst in the UK for delays for two years running. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Birmingham Airport has been ranked the worst in the UK for delays for two years running. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

CAA head of consumer Anna Bowles said: “Our data tells us that too many passengers faced disappointing levels of delays across UK airports last year.

“It is important that consumers experience high-quality service from both airlines and airports this year. We expect airlines to proactively provide passengers with information about their rights when flights are disrupted.”

UK’s worst to best airports in the UK - full list

1. Birmingham (30 minutes)

2. Manchester (29 minutes)

= 2. Doncaster Sheffield (29 minutes)

4. Luton (28 minutes)

5. Gatwick (27 minutes)

6. Bristol (26 minutes)

7. Cardiff (24 minutes)

=7. Edinburgh (24 minutes)

9. Heathrow (22 minutes)

10. Newcastle (21 minutes)

=10. Isle of Man (21 minutes)

=10. Aberdeen (21 minutes)

13. Leeds Bradford (20 minutes)

=13. Southend (20 minutes)

15. Glasgow (19 minutes)

=15. Stansted (19 minutes)

=15. Southampton (19 minutes)

=15. Bournemouth (19 minutes)

19. London City (17 minutes)

=19. Jersey (17 minutes)

21. Belfast International (16 minutes)

22. Liverpool John Lennon (15 minutes)

=22. Belfast City (15 minutes)

24. Exeter (14 minutes)

=24. Teesside (14 minutes)

26. East Midlands (13 minutes)