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Top UK Airports Where Delays Are Likely This Christmas

19 December 2023

Top UK Airports Where Delays Are Likely This Christmas
  • Expert reveals the airports where you're most likely to face the longest delays during Christmas this year
  • Five UK airports faced take-off delays of more than 30 minutes during the festive period last year
  • Tourists flying from London Luton Airport faced the worst delays with an average wait of around 35 minutes

Millions of Brits looking to get away for some winter sun this Christmas could be left waiting for longer than expected at the departure gate according to official statistics.

Research we've conducted here at FlyDays HQ, found that during last year's festivities, UK holidaymakers were delayed by an average of 27 minutes.

With 2023 already mirroring some of the travel disruptions jetsetters faced last year, this year's festive flyers could be set for further turmoil.

The analysis of the Civil Aviation Authority's punctuality data*, which includes all UK airports with international destinations, revealed that London Luton Airport was the worst offender (36 min average), followed by Manchester Airport (33) and Exeter Airport (32).

In total, there were five international airports with more than a half hour average delay to their flights, with Aberdeen International Airport and London Stansted Airport both averaging a 31-minute delay each, last December.

Dan Jones, operations manager at, has offered advice to those heading abroad this Christmas: "The aviation sector has struggled over the past couple of years, and this year has already proven to be a tough one for many airports.

"If we look at the punctuality records across the year, I think many people are preparing for there to be more issues again when the Christmas holiday season lands."

East Midlands Airport was officially the best performing airport with delays averaging just over 15 mins. Meanwhile, the UKs 'Best Airport for Leisure Travel', Teesside International Airport, continues to boast an impressive record, with delays averaging 18 minutes during the entire month.

Dan has also offered some advice for those heading to the airports this December. "When planning a trip abroad, even more so at Christmas when airports face a surge in travellers, it is always worth leaving a buffer for when you expect to arrive at your destination.

"While frustrating, it is also worth making sure you always get to your airport at least two hours before your flight. It is better to be delayed than to miss it completely."

Don't forget to visit our Special Offers page today on the FlyDays website to browse and book some incredible deals on flying experiences this Christmas, available to book from purchase of our Gift Vouchers!

* - Data extracted from the Civil Aviation Data – December 2022 punctuality report, using the average min delay column for each airport that has international flights departing. Delay excludes chartered flights.

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