Why Airline Delays Happen & What Are Your Options?

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller, or you barely get outside of your own hometown, it’s safe to say that airline delays and cancellations are a serious concern for any adventurer, especially if you’re travelling with little ones as well. No matter how carefully you might plan, there’s always a chance that you could arrive at your airport and discover that your flight has been taken off the tarmac for reasons beyond your control.

Flight delays can cause a great deal of trouble and anxiety for the average traveller, let alone a parent! Not only do they mean that they waste valuable time in your vacation, but you also lose out on things like connecting flights too! Even a small delay could end up wrecking your plans completely, and, if you’re someone like me that likes things to go to plan, that could spell disaster.

Here, we’ll look at four of the biggest reasons why airline delays happen, and what you can do when you encounter them.

Why Flight Delays Happen


The delay scenario that many travellers are familiar with, serious weather events can often cause cancellations and serious disruptions with your holiday plans. While planes are equipped to manage various forms of bad weather, there are scenarios that are more likely to ground flights, like freezing rain that could build layers of ice on top of the plane wings.

If you’re worried that you might be faced with a weather delay, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the skies a few days before your flight is scheduled to take off. If you notice something like a hurricane or heavy winds headed your way, you can change your flight plans before your trip has a chance to be canceled.

A Problem with the Plane

Modern planes are stronger and more stable than you could possibly imagine. After all, they’re designed to keep up with the consistent schedules of today’s fast-paced airports. However, just like your car or motorbike, a plane is susceptible to the occasional problem too. In these cases, your airline needs to err on the side of caution and make sure everything is fixed before they take off again.

An aircraft will often be fully serviced and inspected between flights, and if an error is found during an inspection, the mechanical crew will need to make efforts to correct the problem before they can start loading passengers again. Unfortunately, unlike weather issues, it’s hard to predict a malfunction before it happens, but you might be able to ask for compensation if your flight is canceled in this way.

You could also consider flying as early as possible next time, to reduce the risk of malfunctions happening in your plane as the day goes on.

Why Flight Delays Happen

Technical Issues

Not so long ago, Delta Airlines made the news for all the wrong reasons when their computer systems failed, and hundreds of flights ended up being delayed as a result. This had an impact on thousands of travellers and caused mass chaos within dozens of airports.

While digital solutions for flight management have helped to improve efficiency in some ways, they’re not invulnerable to all potential errors. When a computer system crashes – even for just a little while, the ripple effect of these tech issues can last for days or even weeks.

With a little luck, you’ll never see a huge glitch like the Delta Airlines one. However, if you notice that your airline has been making the headlines recently, it might be a good idea to get in touch with customer service and find out what you need to do if your flight is cancelled.

Why Flight Delays Happen

Excessive Air Traffic

Just as a road can be overwhelmed by traffic, the skies can face similar problems too. Airlines get congested when problems occur with scheduled take-off and landing times. Busy airports can sometimes end up with planes lined up and waiting for their opportunity to take off.

If your flight is delayed as a result of problems with air traffic, then the best thing you can do is try to avoid the same problems in the future. Seasoned travelers will know that there are steps you can take to avoid heavy air traffic and crowded airports. For instance, the earlier your flight is, the more likely it is that you’ll take off and land without a problem. Additionally, the day of the week you choose to fly on can have a huge impact on your chances of a delay.

Sundays are generally the lightest days for travel, and Fridays are some of the heaviest. Changing the day of your flight could help you to avoid any future issues.

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I'm Hayley and this is us; working parents to three tiny wild ones. Whether it's travel, food, lifestyle or just a healthy dose of parenting reality, there's something for everyone here. So sit back, get comfy and start scrolling!

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