• Flight delays are number one cause of passenger angst at airports
• Majority of delayed passengers pass the time with activities that cost money
• Being kept updated and free Wi-Fi considered most important by delayed passengers
• 71% of delayed passengers say level of communication during delays is average or below
• Passengers experiencing a delay of 3 hours or more could claim to up to €600
Flight delays are the number one source of airport stress for UK passengers, according to a study of 1011 people by flight compensation experts Bott & Co Solicitors.
Delayed flights topped the airport anxiety list with 18.9% of people saying this is their biggest stress.
The next most common cause of travelling angst was a fear of misplacing boarding tickets (17.4%), missing a flight (16.9%) and going over the baggage allowance (11.6%).
Other answers included “waiting to get through security”, “long queues” and “worrying about my wheelchair not being loaded onto the hold”. Just two people named “fear of flying” as their number one cause for anxiety. One man replied “my wife” when asked what was most likely to cause his frayed nerves at the airport.
When asked how they spend their time when delayed, respondents revealed that late-boarding can often be an expensive affair.
The majority of passengers choose activities that cost money to pass the time when delayed.
65.9% of people would go to a café, 63.5% would take part in some duty free shopping, 40.8% would go for a meal and 35.1% would go for a drink in a bar. (Multiple choice question)
Passengers who suffer delays of two hours or more are entitled to refreshment vouchers but Bott & Co say many of their flight delay clients complain these often don’t cover the cost of a meal at airport outlets.
Popular pastimes that do not necessarily come with a price tag included reading a book (47.5%); listening to music (35.3%); playing games (26.7%); sleeping (16.0%) and arguing with the person I’m travelling with (5.9%).
Bott & Co Flight Delay Lawyer Kevin Clarke said:
“Departure lounge seating may not be the most inviting place to put your head down but when an overnight stay is necessary due to a delay of two hours or more, passengers are entitled to free accommodation courtesy of the airline.
“They’re also entitled to free transportation to and from the hotel, so delayed passengers should make sure they request this if an overnight delay occurs.”
When asked what bothered them most about flight delays, the majority of people went with losing a day of their holiday (41.9%).
Making new transport arrangements was the second most bothersome (21.8%) followed by the cost of food and drink at the airport (15.3%) and finding a way to keep the kids amused (13.4%).
Other answers included “people not controlling their horrible offspring”, “boredom” and “other passengers complaining constantly”.
The number one priority for passengers during a flight delay is being kept up to date by airport staff according to 35.6% of respondents.
But only 29.0% of the people who had suffered a flight delay said they were particularly happy with the level of information they received, with 71.0% of people saying this service was average, poor or awful.
Voted second most important was access to free Wi-Fi (24.7%) but it’s more bad news for delayed passengers as none of the UK’s six busiest airports offer unlimited free internet access.
Free Wi-Fi access is available for passengers for four hours at Heathrow, two hours at Edinburgh, one hour at Manchester and Stansted, 45 minutes at Gatwick and just 30 minutes at Luton.
Third most important to delayed passengers was food and drink vouchers (13.6%). Fourth was activities to keep the kids amused (9.9%), fifth was a good selection of shops (9.3%) and sixth was phone charging points (6.3%).
It’s no wonder free Wi-Fi is so important given that 46.8% of people said they would share news of their flight delay with family and friends via social media.
81.0% of those who said they would update their social media accounts to let people know about a late-running trip said they would do so on Facebook. The next most popular social media platform was Twitter (12.3%), followed by Instagram (2.5%) and Snapchat (2.1%). Others said they would opt for the services WhatsApp or Viber.
Passengers who experience a delay of two hours or more are entitled to two free telephone calls, emails, telex or fax messages. After five hours passengers can ask to exchange their ticket for a refund, but this means they will lose their seat on the plane and will not be able to claim flight delay compensation at a later date.
Flight delay compensation of up to €600 can be claimed for some delays of three hours or more that happened within the last six years.