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What Causes Flight Delays? Top Reasons Why Flights Are Delayed

What Causes Flight Delays? Top Reasons Why Flights Are Delayed

Anca Galateanu
Written By Anca Galateanu
9 minutes read
Last Updated: May 01, 2024

Flight delays are a typical part of the travelling experience and most of us will encounter them at some point. Nevertheless, it can be a very stressful thing to have to go through, and many people are left confused about what to do. Are they going to be able to get where they need to go? Why is my flight delayed in the first place? How often are flights delayed, anyway?

There are a lot of very common reasons why a flight may end up being delayed. Here’s a look at some of the most common ones that you will find when your flight is being delayed.


If your flight was delayed due to the airline's fault, you can be entitled to compensation of up to $650. Check your eligibility with our free flight delay compensation calculator.

poor weather conditions

Unsafe Weather Conditions

Most of us are aware that while trying to take off and land the plane safely, poor weather may be a huge issue. There are a lot of details that need to be sorted out before determining if it’s going to be safe for a plane to fly.


There's a good probability you won't be able to fly safely if it's snowing, sleeting, or raining. Because the plane is flying at such a high altitude, snow or rain might turn into hail or ice, making increasing the chances that the plane might get damaged while in flight.

On top of that, wind is a very dangerous issue that needs to be dealt with, as well. Any sort of wind or turbulence can be a really big problem in regards to flying a plane safely. So, if the wind levels aren’t at the level that they should be, it’s incredibly important for airlines to shut down their flights and delay until the weather is better for flight purposes.


Related to weather, one big reason for flight delays is the ability to see. It can be risky for planes to take off, fly, and land if the cloud cover is too thick if there is a lot of fog. As a result, throughout the winter months, you'll notice a lot more delays owing to poor visibility. A simple snowstorm might lead a plane to crash due to the inability to see.

An engineer checks on a delayed flight plane

Mechanical Trouble

When you think about the different flight delay reasons that are out there, it’s likely that you remember “mechanical trouble” as a part of that process. Whether it’s a landing wheel or the air conditioning, mechanical issues need to be sorted out before a plane is safe to take anywhere.

Mechanically, planes are extremely fragile; one component not functioning properly might produce problems in unexpected areas. This makes it difficult to determine exactly what is going on, and it may take longer than intended to effectively address the issues.

There might be even additional delays due to technical concerns that are unrelated to the plane itself. Not only must the plane be repaired, but it must also be re-inspected and documentation must be submitted before it can be loaded and take off. As a result, you'll need to be delayed for a longer period of time.


Mechanical failure of an aircraft is not considered a force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract). Using AirAdvisor, you can get between 250 and 600 Euros in compensation.

RelatedFlight Delay Caused by Overfueling.

Windshield Damage

Planes have all sorts of things that bounce off of the windshield while in flight. But, there are times where the windshield is starting to see some problems that may be of concern, and that’s where delays can happen.

Large birds are usually the worst offenders, so pilots should keep an eye on what's going on and whether they need to take a quick glance through the glass when they arrive at their destination. If they discover a possible problem, it will cause delays for those on the ground.

Waiting on Cargo

Many passenger jets transport additional goods while in the air. Planes attempt to balance things out and use space properly, whether they're transporting goods or pets. As a result, cargo might be one of the causes of aircraft delays you may encounter when traveling. The plane will be delayed if the cargo is delayed.

Sometimes, the cargo may be rerouted through another plane that has extra space, but this is restricted because of weight and balance (which we will be discussing a little later in this article).

Find out if you are owed compensation for a disrupted flight.

Other Flights Are Delayed 

It should come as no surprise that one of the major reasons of flight delays is, well, other aircraft delays. This is referred to as a "knock on" effect by aviation experts. When one jet is delayed, it's very probable that other planes will be delayed as well and you may miss a connecting flight.

Here's how it might go down. You'll be flying from Los Angeles to New York City. One is in Chicago, while the other is in Baltimore. Fog causes your trip to Los Angeles to be delayed. Your jet is packed with passengers who are also on a layover at O'Hare. Suddenly, that flight from O'Hare to BWI has been rescheduled as well.

The flight from O’Hare to BWI is supposed be a connection for 3 other flights, including an international flight. Now, those flights are delayed. It’s a huge domino effect, and it can make airline schedules incredibly complex and frustrating.


Experiencing flight delays is extremely stressful for the air passengers. Being informed about what's happening is the best way to keep calm. AirAdvisor explains how you can check if your flight is delayed and what is the cause of the delay with flight delay checker.

Weight Restrictions

Planes are certified to carry a specific amount of weight, and exceeding that weight might result in complications while in the air. So, if a plane is overbooked or there are other weight concerns to be resolved, it's critical that the plane crew deal with them as soon as possible before taking off.

This is why there are weight restrictions in regards to the luggage and carry-ons that you can bring with you on a plane. Those weight restrictions make it easier to balance the plane, and it prevents issues like delays or forcing people to take another flight for safety precautions.

Delayed flight due to strike

Industrial, Employee, and Crew Strikes

While these aren’t as common as other reasons you may find, there are times where flight employees may go on strikes, causing delays and cancellations of flights until things are resolved. More often than not, these are limited to one airline, or even to the crew on one flight (called a “wildcat strike”).

In certain circumstances, the airline will do everything possible to link passengers with another airline, usually a partner that departs from the same hubs as their own. This makes it much easier to reschedule things, but it may also be a problem for airlines, who suddenly have to attempt to accommodate you on a different flight.

Industrial strikes, on the other hand, are strikes from air travel adjacent professionals. For example, if Air Traffic Control or staff at a specific airport has gone on strike, it may also cause a delay. In those instances, your rights are the same.

The difficulty is that airlines will often refer to these situations as "extraordinary circumstances." As a result, getting compensation directly from the airline might be challenging. AirAdvisor, like many of the other delay and cancellation concerns discussed in this blog, can assist you in obtaining the compensation you are entitled to.

Safety Concerns

If there is the potential for bodily harm, or there is a national or international security issue, air traffic control and the flight authority in the country you’re in can cancel or delay flights. This is what the Transportation Security Administration did on September 11th, 2001, when the United States experienced a terrorist attack using planes.


If you need help dealing with compensation linked to a flight delay or cancellation, AirAdvisor is here to help. We can answer any questions you may have and assist you in determining a course of action. When all is said and done, we can also ensure that you get what you deserve.

COVID-19 procedures

Even though the world is slowly coming back to normal, there are still some procedures in place to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. With temperature checks and the need to demonstrate all the necessary documents and test results required to travel, checking-in for the flight might take longer than usual. Be sure to double-check the rules for Covid testing and vaccine certificates at the country you're flying to and contact the embassy if you need more clarification. To find out how early you should get to the airport to account for all of the Covid-19 procedures refer to this guide.

Disrupted flight? You might have a right to compensation - up to $650.

Can You Get a Refund or Compensation for a Delayed Flight?

Well, it all depends on the specific circumstances, but in most situations, you should be able to get some sort of compensation for a delayed flight of three hours when the plane is leaving a European airport.


An EU law called EU 261 protects passenger rights in cases of delays and cancellations. There are some “extraordinary circumstances” where the rules might not apply, but in most cases, you can get some money back.


How Can I Find Out Why My Flight Is Delayed?

Usually, the best way to learn more about a delay is to speak to airline staff at any information desk at the airport.

Can I Find Out Why My Flight Is Delayed Online?

You may be able to use online platforms to find out more about flight delays, but if you’re at the airport already, it’s best to speak with airport staff.

Can I Get a Refund for a Delayed Flight?

It depends on the airline’s refund policy. Usually, they won’t offer full refunds, but you should be able to claim compensation and potentially get some money back.

What Should I Do If My Flight Is Delayed?

First, try to find out the reason and length of the delay. If it’s over three hours, you should be able to claim some food and drink from the airline, and you may need to adjust your arrangements if you have a connecting flight planned.

Can I Get Compensated If My Flight Is Delayed?

In most cases, yes. You could be able to claim compensation for flight delays at a value of up to 0. Contact AirAdvisor today to learn more about this. More than 250,000 clients already trust AirAdvisor with their claims.


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Emily Mills 12.04.2021

Even airlines must educate the passengers on their rights.

Felicity Vaughan 12.04.2021

Thanks for increasing my knowledge, Will seek compensation for future travels.

Victoria Howard 12.04.2021

Ah) Must read for all travelers out there.

Karen Cornish 12.04.2021

Much appreciate the information shared here.

Elizabeth Smith 12.04.2021

Guys, always be ready to fight for your right with airadvisor as I got fair compensation only because of them.

Jan Greene 12.04.2021

Airlines must follow the time deadlines and should make ample arrangements before take-off to avert passengers from the trouble. This is what I believe and this article shares much information to get paid if anytime airline is at fault.

Sonia Parr 12.04.2021

I have got eur 300 from United Airline due to flight delay. I advice others too to seek compensation.

Gabrielle Chapman 12.04.2021

I think we should seek compensation wherever airlines are at fault. The passengers plight not only involves money but lot of time and energy too.

Diane Gibson 12.04.2021

Well said. Great information shared.

Jasmine 09.04.2021

I think it’s a good piece of information. They made me well acquaint with my rights to claim from airlines.

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