Which UK Airports Are the Most Punctual? 

Passengers face extended delays, enormous queues, and cancellations at UK airports, many of which are caused by staff shortages and industrial action, not to mention higher-than-expected passenger traffic. With the holidays nearly upon us, it’s improbable the problem will be solved within the next few weeks. When flights are delayed considerably, airlines must provide refreshments, a means of communication, and even accommodation. Passengers are entitled to a refund in case of flight cancellation, the amount of which is typically the same as the ticket price. Punctuality at UK airports has decreased, with delays on Ryanair and Easyjet flights doubling in the past couple of years. 

The time of the year with the most on-time flights is when it’s clear and moderate in temperature both in the UK and the arrival destination (and for the rest of the airlines in your network). That means May, June, September, and October. Needless to say, they’re the worst times for flight reliability, taking into account scheduled and chartered flights. Apart from delays and cancellations, passengers must spend a lot of time in queues for check-in and security. If you’re planning a holiday this summer, you’ll want to know what airport is the best to travel from and the worst for delays and cancellations. 

Stansted Airport Outperforms European Airports for Punctuality 

According to Sky News, East Midlands performed the best, with an average delay of 13 minutes. Besides East Midlands, Stanstead is one of the UK’s most reliable airports, with an average delay of 19 minutes, featuring among the top most punctual European airports. Stansted is a base for several European low-cost carriers, including Ryanair, with 5 domestic and 226 international destinations in 36 countries. It offers more direct European flights than any other airport in the world. Parking lots are adjacent to the airport, owned and operated by airport authorities. If you’re travelling during peak times, choose off-site parking Stansted and use your cost savings to splurge on your holiday. 

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Stansted is one of the UK’s busiest airports, behind Heathrow and Gatwick, dealing with millions of passengers every year, despite having one runway and terminal. The airport was transferred from public to private ownership and control in 2013 – since then, it’s been owned by Manchester Airport Holdings Group. Indeed, Stansted is open 24/7, but it’s not one of the most sleep-friendly airports. More exactly, there’s insufficient seating for travellers (the existing seats are equipped with armrests). If you decide to stay overnight, make sure to bring a sleep mask, earplugs, and some extra layers. Stansted is conveniently located off the M11 motorway. 

Manchester Is One of The Worst Airports When It Comes to Flight Delays 

At 30 minutes on average delays, Birmingham ranks worst for punctuality, followed by Manchester. It seems that Manchester has failed to match the rapid growth of flight numbers, meaning passengers are frequently inconvenienced by delays that can leave them countless pounds out of pocket when they miss connections or transfers. Airport punctuality can be affected by various factors, including but not limited to adverse weather, air traffic control issues, and operational challenges, which can be outside of its control. Speaking of which, passengers faced travel chaos a few days ago, as eGates went down across UK airports following a technical fault. Travellers have had to have their passports checked manually. 

Manchester mostly serves Europe and the Middle East; it’s relatively easy to access and navigate. Although Manchester isn’t as busy as Heathrow, during holiday periods and over the summer, it can be bustling. It’s recommended to book Manchester Airport parking in advance to secure your space and avoid higher fees. Security is particularly tight at UK airports, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s hard to get through airport security. Larger electronic items must be removed from your bag and placed in a tray, medicines containing liquids must be presented in a separate bag, and coats/jackets shouldn’t cover any items in the tray.  

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Can You Avoid Flight Delays (or Cancellations) on Your Upcoming Travel? 

Nobody likes a delayed or cancelled flight, but since airlines can’t control everything (e.g., the weather), they’re a necessary evil that passengers must put up with. Avoiding flight delays and irregular operations isn’t always achievable, but there are some things you can do to maximise your chances of reaching your destination, such as: 

Fly First Thing in The Morning

The best time to fly is between 6am and 7am because the airport is less crowded, so you’ll enjoy a more comfortable trip. Simply put, flying first thing in the morning makes it likelier you’ll be on time compared to the rest of the day. Should there be technical issues, the engineers will have solved them overnight without disrupting your plans. The airspace is less likely to be crowded in the morning, but even if traffic controllers delay departures and landings, you’ll be rebooked on another flight departing that day. 

Shell Out for A Nonstop Flight 

As the name clearly suggests, a nonstop flight is from one airport to the other without any stops along the way. It can save you time and eliminate inconveniences, but confirm details before booking. A connecting flight can be cost-effective. Still, there are numerous drawbacks to take into consideration. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you risk missing out on the next portion of your trip. Additionally, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that a confirmed seat on the plane will get you to your destination. When possible, choose a nonstop route over a connecting route to win a little more time in your schedule. 

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Don’t Check Your Bags 

If you can, avoid checking bags because the travel industry isn’t prepared to handle the demand after two years of COVID-19 restrictions. Maybe your flight is delayed or cancelled. In that case, you’ll have to wait for hours on end to retrieve your bags. Travel with carry-on luggage to have instant access to your stuff, save on fees, and avoid wasting time. You can pack a refillable water bottle, noise-cancelling headphones, a phone charger, a neck pillow, and so on. If you must check your bags, keep your valuables in your carry-on. 


Punctuality at UK airports suffers, which has a ripple effect on people’s travel arrangements. Remember that not all airlines are equal as far as departures are concerned. 

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