The most common reasons for flight delays

We’ve all been there. You’re super excited about going on vacation, you get to the airport with more than enough time to get through security, and then the screen flashes up: DELAYED. Eugh. There’s nothing worse than having to hang around an airport for hours, waiting for your flight to take you somewhere sunny and beautiful. But, have you ever considered why your plane might be late? Here are some of the most common reasons for flight delays.

Late planes

According to statistics, the number one reason for late planes is…uh… late planes. If one aircraft is too late to land, then it caused a domino effect to other flights. Unfortunately, it’s not really something that is within the airline’s control. They cannot physically land until they are told it is safe to do so. While you may be all ready to start shouting at the air hostess for running behind, consider that it might actually be another airline company that’s causing all the delays.

Your airline

In nearly half of all cases, however, it is actually the fault of your airline – or something that is at least within their control. According to the U.S Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), nearly 50% of late flights between June 2015 and June 2016 were down to something the airline was simply slacking on. This could be refueling taking too long, crew not turning up on time, aircraft maintenance, and so on. This then leads to other take-offs and landings being delayed (see above). It’s a bit of a Catch-22 situation if you look at it that way.


Around 30% of delays are actually all down to the weather, which is definitely something that cannot be controlled. Well, not by mere humans anyway. Poor weather means that planes are unable to take-off or land, causing that Catch-22 situation we mentioned earlier. To be fair, we’d rather stay cozy in the airport for a little while longer as opposed to battling high winds or storms in a metal bird. Sure, we don’t mind weather delays one bit.

Airport security

You and I are the kind of people to turn up early for security, right? Unfortunately, not everyone else is. Airport security has got tighter in recent years, which means that it can take a little longer to go through all of the checks. This can then lead to holding up flights, as dozens of passengers can sometimes still be going through screening areas. Less than 0.1% of delays were due to actual security threats, such as evacuating an airport or plane due to a breach, you’ll be pleased to know.

What you can do

So, can you do anything to keep a flight running on time? Other than turning up early enough to check yourself in and get through security, not really. You can also be mindful of all the poor airline staff who will have to deal with the aftermath of a late plane though. It’s not (normally) their fault that the flight is delayed. Unless they’ve turned up late for work, in which case it definitely is their fault…