The latest research by tax specialists, RIFT, reveals that while Heathrow may be the UK’s busiest major airport, Brits heading abroad this summer are best to avoid Glasgow Airport, as it ranks as the worst when it comes to the proportion of flights being cancelled.
RIFT analysed the number of annual flights and cancellations at each of the UK’s 10 busiest airports to see which provides the most efficient service to passengers.
Last year (2022), a combined total of 221.8 million passengers passed through the UK’s 10 busiest airports.
28%, or 61.6 million, of these people travelled through Heathrow, making it the busiest airport in the nation.
Gatwick handled 32.8 million passengers (15%), while Manchester and Stansted (10.5%) each served an estimated 23.3 million passengers (11%).
However, when it comes to the possibility of flight cancellations throwing a spanner in the works for UK holidaymakers, it’s Glasgow Airport that is most likely to kick off your holiday on a sour note.
In 2022 2.5% of all flights from Glasgow were cancelled and while this might not seem like many, it equates to almost 1,500 cancellations.
Heathrow does rank second when it comes to the frequency of cancelled flights. Of the 367,000 flights that were due to take off last year, Heathrow saw a cancellation rate of 1.7% or 6,391 flights.
Gatwick (3,472) and Edinburgh (1,363) also rank high with 1.6% of flights taken off the board
Meanwhile, Birmingham airport handled almost 69,000 flights in 2022 and managed a cancellation rate of just 0.6%, equivalent to less than 400 flights.
Stansted (0.7%) and Belfast International (0.8%) were also impressively reliable.
What to do if your flight is cancelled
If your flight is cancelled, you have a legal right to either a full refund or a replacement flight to your intended destination.
If you are halfway through a journey and the cancelled flight is, for example, a connecting flight, you also have the right to a free flight back to the airport you originally departed from.
If a cancellation delays your journey for more than two hours, and occurs less than 14 days before the scheduled flight time, you are also entitled to compensation to cover your costs, such as food or accommodation when required.
Compensation ranges between £100-£500 depending on how many miles the cancelled flight was going to take you and how many hours late your eventual arrival was.
Be passport prepared
While cancelled flights are a common cause of holiday frustration and disappointment, it’s more common for holidays to be disrupted by passport issues.
If your passport is out of date, it needs renewing before you can travel. The timeline for receiving a new passport is around 12-29 days after submitting your application. But His Majesty’s Passport Office recommends you allow for a waiting time of 10 weeks.
What’s really important to know is that even if your passport is within its expiry date, it still might not be valid depending on your destination of choice.
Some countries, such as the US, simply require your passport to be in-date for the duration of your trip, but many popular destinations require you to have at least three months left on your passport, including Spain, Greece, Italy, and France.
Anyone who isn’t aware of this can be in for a nasty surprise when they get to the airport and cancelled flights will be the least of your worries.
Be prepared and make sure you check the rules specific to your destination well ahead of travelling.
Bradley Post, MD of RIFT, said, “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.”