Different Types of Flight Delays

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We’ve all been there: stuck at an airport, past the departure time due to a delay. It can be frustrating that you’ve made the effort to arrive at the airport early only to be waiting an hour or more after arriving at the gate. However, knowing the TYPE of flight delay can help determine how long it will last and your potential flight delay compensation. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the five flight delay categories are: air carrier, extreme weather, National Aviation System (NAS), late-arriving aircraft, and security.[1] Our team of aeronautical professionals from our aviation school is happy to go into detail about the different types of flight delays.

Air Carrier

This late aircraft delay usually pertains to the status within the airline’s control. For example, problems with maintenance and crew, cleaning within the cabin, fueling, and baggage loading could all be contributing factors of a delayed flight. Fueling a jet can take about 2 hours, especially large aircraft for long-haul or trans-oceanic flights. As for baggage loading, if the check-in line is long, you can expect a bit of a delay since baggage handlers are loading all that luggage until the last minute.

Extreme Weather

Severe weather conditions, whether forecasted or present, will likely keep aircraft on the ground per the carrier until it blows over. Such weather conditions can include hurricanes, blizzards, lightning storms, and tornadoes. Flying in extreme weather conditions can cause airplane turbulence, which is exceedingly hazardous to the flight crew and passengers.  Before arriving at the airport, open your airline’s mobile app to double-check your flight status, especially if you’re privy to a bad weather forecast.

National Aviation System (NAS)

National Aviation System is a broad term for a set of situations that can affect flight times. These include airport operations, non-risky weather conditions, high air traffic volume, and air traffic control delays. For unknown reasons, NAS delays account for 24.5% of total delays and cancellations.[1]

Late-Arriving Aircraft

This specific aircraft delay is a result of the late arrival of the previous flight that utilized the same plane that will be departing. This causes the current flight to take off late and creates a domino effect, causing passengers at other airports to board the aircraft much later as well.


Out of all the different types of flight delays, security is the most critical as it’s a result of terminal or concourse evacuation, a security breach on an aircraft, long lines at screening areas, or defective screening equipment.

Flight Delay Compensation

If you’ve missed your flight due to any of the above flight delays, get in contact with your airline’s customer service with your flight and gate numbers ready. Make sure to be clear, concise, and polite since customer service agents encounter hundreds of complaints daily. This will help the request for flight delay compensation go by smoothly with favorable results.


Though frustrating, these different types of flight delays usually happen to ensure you arrive at your destination safely with all your luggage. For more information on flight delays or our aviation school, contact a member of our professional aeronautical staff to learn more.



[1] Bureau of Transportation Statistics – Understanding the Reporting of Causes of Flight Delays and Cancellations

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