The Most Common Reasons For Flight Cancellations

most common reason for flight delays

We all know that air travellers nowadays should ideally just check in online or at the airport, drop off bags (if applicable), pass through security and board their plane. However, even for frequent flyers, it’s still common to face issues. Here are some of the most common reasons for cancellations.


Security issues are now some of the prime reasons for flight cancellation or delay. Evacuation of a concourse or terminal, aircraft re-boarding due to a security breach, long queues in the screening areas that exceed 29 minutes, or screening equipment that become inoperative can result in cancellation of flights, or in most cases, significant delays.

Weather Havoc

Weather disruption is a common reason for flight cancellations as seen during the Christmas period in 2010 when snow all but shut Heathrow airport. Whether there’s a snow storm, lightning or strong winds, airplanes are not allowed to fly during any extreme weather conditions. Heavy rainfall and fog (surprisingly common at both Heathrow and Gatwick) are also responsible for flight cancellations and delays.

Airport Problems & Air Traffic Control

Other common factors include non-weather events such as delays in airport operations and congested air traffic. Although, these sound pretty vague, they account for almost 25% of airport cancellations or delays. Passengers can be compensated if their flight is cancelled because of general airport conditions which are not their fault.

The air traffic control towers have the ability to handle huge amounts of air traffic on a daily basis. However in times of bad weather or during peak holidays, congestion in air traffic can lead to long delays or cancellations. If a traveller is aware that he/she is flying on a particular busy day they should make sure to check with the airline to find out about the flight status as many times as possible before departing for the airport.

Fueling Issues

A large aircraft may require up to 2 hours for refueling, especially for long-haul flights. In case of any issues with proper fueling of the jet within the given time frame, it might even result in flight cancellation. Such an issue may not come to the passenger’s notice until he/she reaches the airport. It is crucial to have knowledge about one’s traveling rights in case any such issue crops up.

Aircrafts Going Tech

There are times when an aircraft is affected by serious technical issues including aircraft engine problems. In case of any such technical problem, the passengers will not be allowed to board the plane until the issue is dealt with. If the problem is a serious one, the airline might be forced to cancel the flight altogether and find a replacement aircraft resulting in significant delays.

It’s understandable that passengers feel anxious and frustrated about flight delays or cancellations. The impact on business travellers on short day trips is significant. It’s important for passengers to know their rights in obtaining refunds, compensation or obligated alternative flights from the airline company.