Why do flights get delayed? 6 top reasons

With the number of air passengers in Europe continuing to grow it's more and more clear that the existing airport capacity fails to match the growth already now. As a result the number of those affected by flight delays and cancellations continues to grow as well, and by 2040 this number is expected to be 9 times bigger than it is now, a report by Eurocontrol has warned.

Flight delays have doubled in Germany in 2018.

Why are flights delayed? In this article we'll take a look at some of the top reasons why do flights get delayed, apart from the airport capacity problems. And if you are eligible to flight compensation of any sort in these situations.

Top reasons why do flights get delayed

1. Weather conditions

At the departure airport, on the way or at the destination.

The single most important thing to understand here is that your flight may get delayed or cancelled due to bad weather even if it’s a perfect weather outside the window. And you may be even thinking why is my flight delayed, if the weather is so nice? But that’s because the airline looks at the whole journey and makes sure that there isn’t something along the way that could endanger the plane, crew or passengers.

Since it’s not something within airline’s control, you can’t get compensation when your flight gets delayed or cancelled due to bad and unpredictable severe weather patterns.

2. Security

A lot of things are happening at the airports you and I don’t know about, incorporated to make them as safe place as possible. And when the security personnel find out that something is possibly wrong, with for example, a piece of luggage loaded on your plane, they will demand it being unloaded un your flight may get delayed.

In these situations you can’t get flight compensation.

3. Technical issues with the aircraft

If during the pre-flight inspection engineers find that it isn’t safe for the particular aircraft to fly, your flight may get delayed or even cancelled. What you should know is that mostly it doesn't fall under the term “extraordinary circumstances” and isn't considered something out of airline’s control.

Quite the opposit - in most situations it’s considered airline’s fault and you may get compensation when that happens to you.

If in the last 3 years your flight has ever been delayed due to technicals issues of the aircraft. Or cancelled. And if the delay was 3+ hours, file a claim for compensation. You may be entitled to compensation of up to €600.

British Airways airplane

4. Employee strikes

Airport and airline employee strikes is one of the top reasons why do flights get cancelled and delayed in Europe. This summer Ryanair experienced its biggest employee strike to the day, tens of flights were cancelled affecting tens of thousands of passengers.

Compensation-wise airport employee strikes are considered “extraordinary circumstances” and you can’t get compensation in even of something like this happening at the airport.

But if the delay or cancellation is caused by an airline employee strike, as in the example above, it’s not considered something out of airline’s control and accordingly you may possibly get compensation as well as a new flight or full refund.

5. Waiting for connecting passengers

Something most of of travellers have probably experienced. And something that mostly causes only insignificant flight delays. Unless you are traveling at peak times, when it may cause something more than an insignificant flight delay.

If you are flying to or from Europe*, or with a European airline, and if you reach your destination 3 or more hours later, then you may be entitled to flight delay compensation.

6. Airport congestion

With the number of air passengers and flights growing, airport congestion is a worldwide trend nowadays. And, if for example, captain of the plane decides to wait for connecting passengers during peak hours, it may lead to a rather long delay in the end. Simply because it may not be possible to leave the airport that fast when all the passengers have arrived. Because of other planes coming in and leaving the airport at the same time.

Can you get compensation if this case? It depends. If the delay was 3 or more hours, file a claim with us and we’ll take a closer look at the situation.


*In this case, Europe means all EU Member States and Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

*See the Eurocontrol report here. *