Delay to Departure report: what are the best and worst routes for flight delays?

Topic: Travel

Despite all the moving parts, our research highlights how airports and airlines work hard to keep flight delays to a minimum…

With the summer season approaching, many of us will be taking to booking sites in search of our next getaway. 

Last year alone, Brits took over 1.9 million domestic flights, up 12.67% from 2022.

For some, travelling is a relaxing and cathartic experience, for others, lengthy delays and busy airports can result in a stressful start to a trip. 

A YouGov report found that in the Summer of 2022, 60% of those planning to travel had little confidence in reaching their destinations without significant delays or cancellations.

With customers now having more options for providing feedback than ever before, customer satisfaction is paramount and it’s essential that should a flight be delayed or cancelled, passengers are notified as soon as possible, making a case for an automated SMS solution

Passengers are used to having all the information they need at their fingertips, meaning airlines need to follow suit when it comes to disruption texts, whether that’s a change of gate or a flight delay. The likes of SMS landing pages help airlines such as British Airways better communicate with passengers, should the unforeseen happen. 

Which routes are most affected by delays? 

To work out which flight routes passengers are most likely to encounter the most delays, our team got to work and took an indepth look at the numbers. 

We analysed over 250 flight routes from 20 of the UK’s major airports, based on scheduled flights for the next month. Our team then chose one of the most commonly scheduled flight codes and used FlightRadar24 to analyse the average scheduled arrival time and actual arrival time of every completed flight over the past year, revealing which flight route suffers most from delays, or benefits from an early or on-time arrival.

Most delayed routes to fly

The Delay to Departure Report found that the UK’s most delayed flight is from Leeds Bradford to Lawica, Poland (Poznan). With an average scheduled arrival time of 11:51 AM and an average actual arrival time of 12:27 PM, passengers face an average delay of 36 minutes. 

UK passengers on longer haul flights can also expect delays with the second most delayed flight on average being Birmingham International to Dubai, with an average delay of 30 minutes. 

Passengers in the Midlands keen for a weekend in Paris can also expect delays as the UK’s third most delayed flight route operates from East Midlands Airport to Paris – Orly Airport with an average delay of 28 minutes. 

Top 50 Most Delayed Routes

Home AirportDestination AirportAirlineFlight CodeAverage scheduled arrival Average actual arrivalTime delayed
Leeds Bradford AirportLawica – PolandRyanairFR560611:5112:270:36
Birmingham International AirportDubai – UAEEmiratesEK400:391:090:30
East Midlands AirportOrly – ParisEastern AirwaysT324911:5112:190:28
Edinburgh AirportBelfast City – Northern IrelandAer LingusEI365312:1012:370:27
Manchester AirportLisbon – PortugalTAP PortugalTP131110:4911:140:25
London GatwickMilan Malpensa – ItalyeasyJetU2830514:4415:040:20
Bristol AirportGuernsey – UKAurigyny Air ServicesGR64314:0914:290:20
Bristol AirportEdinburgh – ScotlandeasyJetU221919:2019:390:19
Bristol AirportPorto – PortugaleasyJetU2287517:2417:420:18
Belfast InternationalGlasgow – ScotlandeasyJetU26115:0015:170:17
London GatwickDublin – IrelandRyanairFR11311:0511:220:17
Newcastle International AirportAberdeen – ScotlandEastern AirwaysT372418:0318:200:17
London GatwickGeneva – SwitzerlandeasyJetU2848711:2011:360:16
London LutonPrague – Czech RepublicWizz AirW9260214:0814:240:16
Birmingham International AirportAberdeen – ScotlandLoganairLM6617:2917:440:15
East Midlands AirportGuernsey – UKAurigny Air ServicesGR69716:3216:470:15
Glasgow AirportGatwick – EnglandeasyJetU286210:5211:060:14
Edinburgh AirportDublin – IrelandAer LingusEI32519:299:420:13
Bristol AirportCork – IrelandAer LingusEI384317:1917:320:13
Leeds Bradford AirportMálaga Airport – SpainRyanairFR244613:2413:370:13
London LutonBen Gurion – IsraeleasyJetU2258319:2919:410:12
London LutonBudapest – HungaryWizz AirW6220211:5512:070:12
London GatwickTenerife – SpaineasyJetU2803311:5912:110:12
Glasgow AirportKirkwall – ScotlandLoganairLM43214:1814:300:12
Liverpool John Lennon AirportFrankfurt – GermanyLufthansaLH96916:5617:070:11
London City AirportIsle of Man – UKLoganAirLM67820:0220:130:11
Newcastle International AirportHeathrow – EnglandBritish AirwaysBA133518:0418:140:10
London StanstedBelfast International – Northern IrelandRyanairU23812:0412:140:10
London GatwickSchiphol – NetherlandseasyJetU2867310:2710:370:10
London GatwickEl Prat Airport – BarcelonaVuelingVY783112:2212:320:10
Glasgow AirportIslay – ScotlandLoganairLM4218:458:540:09
London GatwickMarrakesh – MoroccoeasyJetU2870512:0612:150:09
Belfast InternationalStansted – EnglandeasyJetU24116:1916:280:09
London GatwickGlasgow – ScotlandeasyJetU286313:1713:260:09
Manchester AirportBelfast International – Northern IrelandeasyJetU270720:5421:030:09
London GatwickIstanbul – TurkeyTurkish AirlinesTK198216:5517:030:08
Edinburgh AirportSumburgh – ScotlandLogan AirLM3539:269:350:08
London HeathrowLisbon – PortugalTAP PortugalTP13638:408:480:08
Birmingham International AirportGeneva – SwitzerlandeasyJetU2150616:0216:100:08
Bristol AirportLisbon – PortugaleasyJetU2286713:5113:590:08
London GatwickCopenhagen – DenmarkNorwegian Air IntlD8351516:4716:550:08
Manchester AirportAlicante – SpaineasyJetU2201519:4519:530:08
Belfast InternationalLuton – EnglandeasyJetU263010:0410:120:08
London GatwickEdinburgh – ScotlandeasyJetU280710:0610:140:08
London StanstedIstanbul – TurkeyPegasusPC116219:2519:330:08
Manchester AirportGeneva – SwitzerlandeasyJetU2218513:4213:500:08
Manchester AirportDublin – IrelandAer LingusEI2039:109:170:07
Birmingham International AirportGuernsey – UKAurigny Air ServicesGR70315:1715:240:07
Belfast InternationalSchiphol – NetherlandseasyJetU2305116:3516:420:07
London LutonSofia – BulgariaWizz AirW6430213:4713:540:07

Which routes are likely to arrive early?

Most likely routes to have an early arrival

The flight route where passengers are most likely to see an early arrival is from London Heathrow to Indira Gandhi International (Delhi). With an average scheduled arrival time of 9.08 PM and an actual average arrival time of 8:33 PM, passengers from the UK are often setting foot in Delhi 35 minutes earlier than planned. 

Passengers from Belfast are also likely to touch down ahead of schedule as the UK’s joint-earliest arrival is from George Best Belfast City to Frankfurt, resulting in a 35-minute earlier arrival. 

European short-hops continued to dominate the early arrival rankings as passengers on the Manchester to Prague route often benefit from landing 33 minutes early, while those on the Liverpool to Iasi (Romania) route will also touch down 20 minutes ahead of schedule. 

Just one UK domestic route appeared in the top 10 early arrivals with passengers from Bristol to Belfast International enjoying an average earlier arrival of 16 minutes. 

Top 50 Early Arrival Routes

Home AirportDestination AirportAirlineFlight CodeAverage scheduled arrival Average actual arrivalTime Arrived Early
London HeathrowIndira Gandhi International – IndiaAir IndiaAI16221:0820:330:35
George Best Belfast City AirportFrankfurt – GermanyLufthansaLH152916:4316:080:35
Manchester AirportPrague – Czech RepublicRyanairFR683815:4215:090:33
Liverpool John Lennon AirportIasi – RomaniaWizz AirW4369812:4712:260:21
London StanstedMilan Malpensa – ItalyRyanairFR275713:2313:030:20
Bristol AirportBelfast International – Northern IrelandeasyJetU2295711:2711:110:16
London HeathrowNewark Liberty – New YorkUnited AirlinesUA88310:5310:380:15
London HeathrowJFK International – New YorkBritish AirwaysBA11711:1611:020:14
Liverpool John Lennon AirportKrakow – PolandRyanairFR636014:1213:580:14
London HeathrowDublin – IrelandAer LingusEI1519:048:500:13
London GatwickMálaga Airport – SpaineasyJetU2806912:4112:280:13
London StanstedMilan Bergamo – ItalyRyanairFR269610:129:590:13
London HeathrowSchiphol – NetherlandsBritish AirwaysBA4289:118:590:12
George Best Belfast City AirportManchester – EnglandAer LingusEI36107:407:280:12
Manchester AirportBelfast City – Northern IrelandAer LingusEI36119:339:210:12
London City AirportDublin – IrelandBritish AirwaysBA447219:0818:560:12
Edinburgh AirportLondon City – EnglandBritish AirwaysBA87019:189:060:12
Glasgow AirportLondon City – EnglandBritish AirwaysBA87218:298:170:12
Liverpool John Lennon AirportDublin – IrelandRyanairFR4417:357:240:11
East Midlands AirportWroclaw – PolandRyanairFR91616:5016:390:11
Belfast InternationalBirmingham – EnglandeasyJetU2258:047:530:11
London LutonIasi – RomaniaWizz Air MaltaW4365214:2514:140:11
London HeathrowFrankfurt – GermanyLufthansaLH9219:048:540:10
London HeathrowZurich – SwitzerlandSWISSLX3458:408:300:10
London City AirportZurich – SwitzerlandBritish AirwaysBA87639:369:260:10
Glasgow AirportLuton – EnglandeasyJetU24018:188:080:10
London City AirportBillund – DenmarkBritish AirwaysBA821221:0520:550:10
Manchester AirportEl Prat Airport – BarcelonaRyanairFR754216:2016:100:10
London SouthendSchiphol – NetherlandseasyJetU225119:099:000:09
London LutonSchiphol – NetherlandseasyJetU225119:099:000:09
Leeds Bradford AirportKatowice – PolandWizz AirW6101612:3312:240:09
Belfast InternationalManchester – EnglandeasyJetU27029:359:260:09
Newcastle International AirportDublin – IrelandRyanairFR1713:2813:190:09
London StanstedVienna – AustriaRyanairFR73013:2313:150:08
London LutonCluj – RomaniaWizz Air MaltaW4330213:1013:020:08
Bristol AirportKrakow – PolandRyanairFR622115:0014:520:08
Liverpool John Lennon AirportBelfast International – Northern IrelandeasyJetU25019:279:190:08
East Midlands AirportEl Prat Airport – BarcelonaRyanairFR938813:2713:200:07
Leeds Bradford AirportSchiphol – NetherlandsKLMKL15408:358:280:07
London City AirportBelfast City – Northern IrelandBritish AirwaysBA875820:2620:190:07
Liverpool John Lennon AirportGeneva – SwitzerlandeasyJetU2346110:049:570:07
Bristol AirportEl Prat Airport – BarcelonaeasyJetU2270311:0711:010:06
Edinburgh AirportBelfast International – Northern IrelandeasyJetU23278:218:140:06
Edinburgh AirportSchiphol – NetherlandsKLMKL12768:218:140:06
East Midlands AirportAlicante – SpainRyanairFR908511:3411:280:06
George Best Belfast City AirportSouthampton – EnglandAer LingusEI36029:008:540:06
East Midlands AirportTenerife – SpainRyanairFR315211:5111:450:06
Birmingham International AirportIstanbul – TurkeyTurkish AirlinesTK196817:1917:130:06
East Midlands AirportKnock – IrelandRyanairFR174212:0712:010:06
Liverpool John Lennon AirportBucharest – RomaniaWizz AirW4301211:2011:140:06

Which routes are bang on time?

London Airports dominate 10 of the 22 flight routes passengers are most likely to get to their destinations on time. Stansted to Portugal, London City to Berlin and Luton to Edinburgh are just a few flight routes passengers can expect a punctual arrival. 

Passengers flying from Birmingham International Airport may also see an on-time arrival with flights to Belfast International, Malaga and Charles de Gaulle Paris all touching down on time. 

Chris Gorman, Head of Professional Services at Esendex commented on the report: 

“A delayed flight can cause a lot of anxiety, adding to an already stressful situation for many of us. Whether that’s impacting further travel plans once landed, or causing issues with accommodation, flight delays can cause havoc to travel itineraries. 

“It’s vital that airlines have the right digital infrastructure in place to ensure passengers are kept up to date, with the correct information and crucially, to allow passengers to stay in contact with airlines as a solution is being sought. 

“Ensuring processes like WhatsApp for Business, automated SMS solutions or SMS Landing pages are in place, will not only improve the customer service experience of the passengers but can also reduce the administrative challenges facing the airline too.” 

Find out more: SMS solutions for the travel industry


Esendex listed the most common flight routes and their flight codes based on upcoming scheduled flights at 20 major UK Airports using

Esendex then took the most commonly scheduled flight code and used FlightRadar24 to analyse every completed flight per flight code, over the past year, taking an average scheduled arrival time and an average actual arrival time. The resulting time difference then revealed whether a flight route was on average delayed, early or on time. 

In total, Esendex analysed over 250 flight routes.

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Mary Henry

Mary has extensive experience in communication, PR and journalism - most recently across SaaS businesses. A keen researcher and storyteller, Mary is highly skilled in making complex concepts accessible, and in putting customers at the heart of her communication. She has supported all kinds of businesses to tell their brand, product and people stories - from global multinationals to start-ups across retail, travel/leisure, banking/finance, government and educational institutions.