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More than 9,000 flights set to depart from UK airports this bank holiday weekend

It's one of the busiest weekends of the year for UK airports. Should you be prepared for problems and delays?

More than 9,000 flights set to depart from UK airports this bank holiday weekend

This bank holiday weekend, 9,350 commercial flights are scheduled to take-off across the UK as holidaymakers look to make the most of the long weekend and half-term holidays.

According to data provided to Which? by the airline schedules database, the Official Airline Guide, almost 2,000 flights are set to depart from Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, over the three-day weekend.

The next busiest is London Gatwick, where 1,288 planes are scheduled to take-off, then Manchester with 826 planned departures.

The data covers commercial flights and doesn’t include chartered flights.

Which airport has the longest delays?

Recent analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data also revealed that, on average, flights left the UK 15 minutes later than planned last year, with flights departing from Luton delayed longer than any other airport.

According to CAA data, flights left, on average, 19.7 minutes late from Luton, almost a minute longer than Gatwick, which had the second-longest average delays of 18.9 minutes.

The best airports for prompt departures were Heathrow, where flights departed, on average, 11 minutes late, followed by Leeds Bradford and Belfast City, which both had an average of 11.3 minutes.

Should I be prepared for delays?

Officials have cautioned passengers flying out of Luton Airport that there could be last-minute delays on Saturday and Sunday. This is due to a potential strike by Menzies Aviation staff, who carry out ground-handling operations for Easyjet, Vueling, Blue Air and Tarom.

If you are delayed because of a strike, and it’s deemed to be out of the control of the airline, it might prevent you from being able to claim compensation. You can read more about the restrictions in our free guide.

Long-suffering passengers will remember three days of flight chaos in the late May bank holiday last year, after a major IT issue forced British Airways to cancel all its flights from Heathrow and Gatwick, leaving around 75,000 passengers stranded, with some forced to sleep on the terminal floor.

Always check on your flights before you head to the airport and leave plenty of time for your journey to the terminal in case there’s disruption.

What are my rights if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

Your airline should let you know if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

If your flight is within the EU, on EU-based airlines or depart from an EU airport and is delayed by two hours or more, you are entitled to the following:

  • two free phone calls, faxes or emails
  • free meals and refreshments for delays more than two hours long
  • free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required.

If your flight is cancelled within 14 days of take off, or more than three hours late getting to your final destination, you could be owed up to €600 in compensation, depending on the distance of your flight and how long you were delayed.

Read our guide on what you can claim for if your flight is cancelled and how to get compensation if you’re late getting to your destination.


Train delays, strikes and engineering work

It’s also worth checking your journey if you’re travelling by train to the airport or to your destination, because there are some planned engineering works and strikes.

Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers at Northern Rail are staging a 12-hour walk-out between 7am and 7pm on Saturday.

Northern Rail has warned passengers to allow extra travel time as there’ll be fewer services between those hours and rail replacement services will be busy.

Network Rail has also told passengers to check their journeys before they travel because of planned engineering works on some routes. For more information, head to the National Rail website.

Read more: get clued up on your rights if your train’s delayed.

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