delayed flights departure board
17 Feb 2016

Airlines Adopt Schedule Padding to Avoid Flight Delay Compensation Payouts

‘Schedule padding’ is common practice among airlines to ensure they’re always on time

New research into airline schedules shows that, despite improvements and efficiencies in aviation travel, journeys are getting longer and longer. At least, the time airlines say journeys will take are lengthening.

In 1996, the short flight north from London Heathrow to Edinburgh was allotted a block time of 75 minutes or less. But in 2015, the majority of airlines estimate the journey at 85 minutes.  The SNP hasn’t demanded an extra few miles be placed between the two cities, and nor have aircraft become slower over the last twenty years. Instead, this is an example of a now-common phenomenon known as ‘schedule padding’.

This underhand technique is used by airlines to ensure they are on time more often – increasing their on-time performance score (OTP) by giving themselves more “wriggle” room and reducing the number of delayed flights they have to show customers.

Smarter Airline Customers

This isn’t a brand new phenomenon. In 2013, Jim Paton, senior lecturer in the Department of Air Transport at Cranfield University, told the BBC: “The practice of buffering the airline schedule times is something that is very common, almost universal in Europe and in other parts of the world.”

But what is changing quickly is the pressure airlines are facing from smarter customers who are able to choose airlines and airports based on easily accessible statistics.

Added to this, the previously slow and difficult process for claiming money back for delayed flights has been made far easier by companies such as ours where customers can simply enter the details of their delayed flight and wait for compensation.

Flight Delays

Even with airlines regularly extending their published flight times, we believe that more than one in 50 flights from a UK airport are delayed for more than three hours or cancelled altogether.

For instance, we helped Paul Davies from Manchester claim compensation for a flight to Edinburgh when he was three hours delayed, and a flight from Southampton when he suffered a 13 hour delay.  In total, we helped Paul claim over £400 for the two delays.

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Big thanks for the £304.70 transferred to my bank account today. My claim related to a three-leg flight from Norwich UK to Phoenix USA via Schiphol. The CAA suggested I had a good case but could do nothing because the delay occurred within Dutch jurisdiction. I twice did battle with KLM/Delta myself but they would not budge. Another claims firm tried but threw in the towel. So congratulations to Claim4Flights for taking it on and winning – and for getting the money transferred into my bank account within two days of notification. Very impressed!

Delta Airlines Flight – Andy, Norfolk from Delta Airlines £304.70 won 11th April 2017
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