Top 5 Reasons for Flight Delays And What You Can Do?

Flight delays are one of the worst parts of travel, but we don’t have to deal with them without trying to do something about it.

In this article, we’ll look at the five most common reasons for flight delays and how to avoid being part of the statistics.

Ever had your flight cancelled just minutes before boarding time? Been stuck in a faulty plane waiting to take off for hours? You’re not alone.

By being prepared and planning, you can reduce the chances of having your holiday ruined by a cancelled flight or unexpected delay. So read on, and take control of your travel plans!

Air Traffic Control Delays

When you’re stuck in the airport because your flight’s been delayed, it’s easy to feel like you’re being punished for no reason—but it may not be anyone’s fault but air traffic control.

Air traffic control (ATC) delays are a major cause of flight delays, and they often happen when either the departure or arrival airports become too congested.

The sheer number of planes flying in and out can cause a backlog since ATC has to coordinate all the planes, coordinating their entry and existence from their respective airports.

To avoid this type of delay, you have a few options: if you’re able to choose your flight time, try to book away from peak hours (usually between 6 am and 8 pm); also, check the status of your flight in advance—any major changes will be updated on a real-time basis.

Alternately, consider flying out from an alternate airport nearby: if one is highly congested and another isn’t, the latter might result in fewer delays for your flight.

Weather Conditions

Nobody can control the weather, which remains one of the main causes of flight delays. From snow and rain to strong winds, air traffic control often holds flights during inclement weather to avoid turbulence and other risks associated with more extreme conditions.

You can’t do much about it, but you can do a little preparation in advance. First, keep an eye on the weather forecast. If you’re flying out of a particularly rainy or windy area, you might want to look into other options or book another flight with more favorable conditions.

It’s also important to pay attention to any delay notices you receive from your airline, or check their app for updated travel information.Then make sure you set aside enough time at the airport in case extra security measures are put in place due to bad weather.

If there are any delays due to weather conditions, you’ll be prepared for them.

Airport Congestion and Maintenance

Some of the most common reasons for flight delays are something you can’t help—like airport congestion and maintenance.
Whether due to the number of planes in the air or a randomly selected security check on the tarmac, airport congestion can lead to delays.

It is something airports often can’t control, though they usually try to reduce delay times as best they can.
Moreover, when it comes to maintenance, planes need regular servicing and routine check-ups, just like cars, which can lead to short-term delays.

If a plane has a problem with its inner workings, airport personnel will do their best to fix it, so it’s safe for passengers, even if that means waiting a few extra hours for a new part or technician.

So, unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about airport congestion and maintenance-related delays, but remember that these are some of the most common causes of flight delays!

Equipment and Security Constraints

The fourth most common reason for delays is equipment and security constraints. Equipment constraints could be related to the aircraft or airport, while security constraints typically involve rules that must be followed before your flight takes off.

Aircraft Breakdown

When it comes to aircraft, it’s not unusual for a component to malfunction and requires replacing or fixing. Unfortunately, the passengers have to wait until the issue is solved before they get on their way.

You can help minimize your wait time by planning and being aware of when there might be shortages or delays in repairs.

Airport Issues

Airport issues can include anything from long lines at security to congested runways. When there is a problem caused by bad weather, you won’t be able to do much about it except remain patient and understand that the airline is trying its best to reduce any delays they may cause.

Security Protocols

Security protocols can also cause delays—especially during peak hours of travel when the lines become longer, and more intense scrutiny is required (for example, the use of additional equipment such as pat-downs).

To avoid this type of delay, plan to pack appropriately and arrive early at the airport, so you have plenty of time to get through security smoothly.

Airlines Overbooking Flights

The fifth most common cause of flight delays is airlines overbooking their flights. In the airline industry, overbooking flights is considered a reasonable practice: when it’s difficult to predict no-shows, they pad their numbers a bit.

However, this strategy doesn’t always work out. When there is no room on the plane for all passengers, those with short-notice bookings get the boot. That’s why booking as early as possible is key if you want first dibs on your flight.

Aside from booking ahead of time, you can also take precautions to ensure you won’t be kicked off an already overbooked plane.

Two things will help

Use an Airline’s Pre-check:

Airlines may avoid bumping customers who have pre-checked in online or checked in at curbside check-in services at least 24 hours before departure time.

Check-in at the Airport Early:

Generally, airlines try not to bump customers who have checked in close to their boarding time
Be aware of these strategies and preemptively take measures against them so that you won’t be subject to a delay due to an airline overbooking its flights!

Best Practices for Avoiding Flight Delays

No one likes being stuck at the airport for a delayed flight, so here are some tips to help you avoid them.

Research in Advance

Do your due diligence and avoid potential research delays caused by bad weather. Weather forecasts can change daily, and what was predicted days ago may no longer be accurate by your departure date.

Moreover, check the plane’s maintenance history and also check for any potential air traffic or airport issues like construction or heavy air traffic in the area. These might seem like small details, but they can save you lots of time and frustration if there’s a delay.

Be Prepared

One way to fight the frustration of a delayed flight is to come prepared with supplies. Pack an extra phone charger, snacks, and drinks if your flight is delayed past the meal service scheduled for that plane.

Bring some entertainment, such as books or magazines, that can help keep you occupied while you wait. And please keep in mind your headphones—the sounds of aircraft taking off and landing can be distracting!

Delays are unavoidable sometimes, so it’s important to accept that things don’t always go as planned. Follow these best practices for avoiding flight delays—you never know when they might be useful!


Remember, there’s probably a logical explanation the next time you’re fretting about an upcoming flight delay. While you can’t prevent all delays, understanding the most common reasons for flight delays and taking proactive steps to limit your risk can help you save time and stress during your travel experience.

With the right precautions and knowledge, you can prepare for the potential challenges of delayed flights and reduce the time you spend waiting in the terminal. So, stay informed, pack your patience, and enjoy your flight!

Related Questions

How to check if your flight is delayed?

To check if your flight is delayed, you can visit the airline’s website, use a flight tracker app, check airport websites, sign up for flight alerts, or contact the airline directly. It’s important to check your flight status regularly, especially if you are traveling during a busy season or in an area prone to weather-related delays.

What are the most common reasons for flight delays?

The most common reasons for flight delays include:

  • Weather-related issues, such as thunderstorms, snow, or high winds.
  • Technical issues with the aircraft, such as mechanical problems or maintenance issues.
  • Air traffic control delays, such as congestion or ground stops.
  • Late arrival of the incoming aircraft or crew, can cause a ripple effect of delays.
  • Security issues, such as a threat or breach require additional screening or delays in boarding.
  • Carrier-related issues, such as overbooking or crew scheduling problems.
  • Passengers arriving late or not boarding on time.
  • Baggage loading issues or cargo-related delays.
  • Waiting for connecting passengers or cargo to be loaded.
  • Late gate arrival of the aircraft.

What types of technical issues can cause flight delays and cancellations?

There are several types of technical issues that can cause flight delays and cancellations, including:

  • Engine problems: Issues with the engine can result in a flight delay or cancellation. These can include problems with the fuel system, oil leaks, or engine shutdowns.
  • Electrical issues: Electrical issues can cause a delay or cancellation of a flight. These can include problems with the aircraft’s power system, communication systems, or navigation equipment.
  • Hydraulic problems: Issues with the hydraulic system can cause a delay or cancellation. These can include problems with the aircraft’s landing gear, brakes, or flaps.
  • Avionics issues: Issues with the avionics system can cause a delay or cancellation. These can include problems with the aircraft’s autopilot, flight control system, or weather radar.
  • Cabin equipment issues: Issues with the cabin equipment can cause a delay or cancellation. These can include problems with the air conditioning system, lighting, or entertainment system.
  • Structural issues: Structural issues can cause a delay or cancellation. These can include problems with the aircraft’s wings, fuselage, or landing gear.

How do air traffic control delays affect flight schedules and what can passengers do about them?

Air traffic control delays occur when there is congestion in the airspace, causing a backlog of flights waiting to take off or land. This can result in delays in departure, arrival, and connecting flights. The delays can be caused by a variety of factors, including weather conditions, technical issues, or capacity constraints.

Passengers can take several steps to mitigate the impact of air traffic control delays. These include staying informed about the status of your flight, being prepared with snacks and entertainment, staying in touch with the airline to inquire about rebooking options or accommodations, knowing your rights for compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004, and being patient and courteous with airline staff and fellow passengers.

How does weather affect flight schedules and what can passengers do about it?

Weather is a common cause of flight delays and cancellations. Adverse weather conditions such as thunderstorms, snow, and high winds can impact the safety of flights and cause delays in departure, arrival, and connecting flights.

Passengers have several options to minimize the impact of weather-related delays, such as staying informed, packing weather-appropriate clothing and finding accommodations nearby if necessary, keeping in touch with the airline for updates, knowing their rights for compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004, and being patient and respectful towards airline personnel and fellow passengers.

It’s essential to remember that airlines prioritize safety and will not risk flying in hazardous weather conditions. Although weather-related delays can be inconvenient, they are crucial to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Pramod Ram

Pramod Ram

Digital Marketing Strategist

Pramod Ram heads the Online Marketing and Content Marketing Team at Claim Flights GmbH. He loves to travel, read books, watch movies and do intensive research.

If your flight delays for more than 3 hours, or was canceled, you may be eligible for compensation up to €600 based on EU 261 rule.

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