The airlines with the most flight cancellations and delays in Hong Kong

Airline cancellations and delays affect millions of passengers across the globe each year, causing many travellers disappointment, inconvenience, and frustration.

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The following research was conducted as part of a consumer research piece on behalf of MoneySmart. MoneySmart is aware that the results displayed on this page are conclusive from the perspective of the Hong Kong travellers we spoke to and not as an actual depiction of the flight cancellations or delays each airline may have on record. Data is also based on travellers' experience from May 2022-May 2023.

Whilst for the most part, airline cancellations and delays are just an inconvenience to our trips, they can sometimes cause disruptions to our moods, onward travel, and even our wallets. Travellers may even incur additional expenses for accommodation, meals, or alternative transportation – which can be difficult to get back without the appropriate travel insurance for flight cancellations and delays.

To understand exactly the issues travellers have experienced with flight cancellations and delays, we commissioned a survey of over 700 Hong Kong travellers to find out which airlines they say they’ve experienced the most disruptions with and how this affected their travel experiences.

Which airlines did travellers experience the most flight delays with?

Of the Hong Kong travellers we spoke to, Cebu Pacific Air came in as the top airline with the highest ratio of flight delays, with almost two-thirds (66%) of respondents who had flown with them in the past year saying they’d experienced at least one.

Second was Air Asia, with 65% of respondents reporting a delay with them.

The airline with the third-most reported delays was Air China, with around 3 in 5 (63%) respondents who flew with the airline also encountering delays.

Similarly, half (50%) of the travellers surveyed that flew with Hong Kong’s largest airline, Cathay Pacific, said that they had experienced a delay.

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How long were travellers delayed for?

The most common delay duration for Hong Kong travellers was 1 to 3 hours (28% of respondents).

Of the top 12 most delayed airlines, Bangkok and All Nippon Airways were the airlines that travellers reported the most prolonged delays with, with most passengers saying they were delayed for 7 to 9 hours.

Who did travellers experience the most airline cancellations with?

Whilst experiencing delays can be frustrating enough, having your entire flight cancelled can be a truly traumatic event, with entire plans thrown into disarray.

Excluding airline cancellations due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Bangkok Airways took the top spot, with 61% of survey respondents who had flown with the airline reporting that they had experienced a cancellation.

Cebu Pacific followed, with 59% of respondents who had flown with the airline reporting a cancellation with them.

The airline in third place was Air China, where over two-thirds (56%) of respondents reported cancelled flights.

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How long were travellers’ cancellations?

The most common wait time for Hong Kong travellers’ replacement flights was 4 to 6 hours (23% of respondents); worryingly, 1 in 25 (4%) respondents reported not receiving a replacement flight from their airline.

Of the top 12 most cancelled airlines, respondents reported the longest waits for replacement flights with British Airways, with most waiting 10 to 12 hours.

Singapore Airlines was the quickest to get their cancellation customers a replacement flight, with most (34%) saying they only waited 1 to 3 hours for a replacement flight with the airline.

How have the airlines handled the disruption?

Over half (57%) expressed extreme disappointment with their airline’s handling of delays or cancellations.

Across all airlines, 56% of travellers said that the airline staff were not as helpful as they would have expected, and another 54% of people stated that the airline was not very communicative with the handling of their disruption.

Perhaps most shockingly, over half (56%) of the disrupted travellers we spoke to admitted that said that the way the airline dealt with their delay or cancellation has made them not want to fly with the airline again.

How often are airlines compensating passengers for flight cancellations and delays?

43% of the respondents who had experienced delays said that they had not been compensated directly from the airline for their disruptions, compared to 44% of respondents with flight cancellations.

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What Are The Causes Of Flight Delays And Cancellations? How Can I Avoid Them?

Often, passengers aren’t told the reasons for flight delays or cancellations, leaving them in the dark, adding to their frustrations. These causes can vary across the board. Some of the most common reasons for delays and cancellations include:

While any flight is liable to experience delays or cancellations, some experts say passengers can use a few strategies to help lessen the chances of experiencing disruptions.

Many experts say booking a flight earlier in the day (with some saying 6am to 7am is best) can help avoid delays, such as the knock-on delay effects of other aircraft throughout the day.

Similarly, some studies say Wednesday to Saturday are the best days for avoiding disruptions.

Does travel insurance protect me from flight cancellations or delays?

Not only is travel insurance a great way to ensure that you are covered for any potential disruptions, but it can also cover unforeseen emergencies, overseas medical costs, pre-trip crises, or personal accidents. Check out our guide on why it’s necessary to get travel insurance.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents who have experienced disruptions said that because of their recent flight cancellations or delays, they will now always pre-arrange travel insurance to safeguard against travel disruptions. And for the Hong Kong travellers who were insured when their disruptions happened, and used it to make a travel insurance claim, we found that most were extremely pleased with the experience:

  • 73% said they were pleased with the travel insurance provider’s handling of their claim.
  • 72% said the handling of their claim has made them want to choose the same travel insurance provider again.
  • 68% said their travel insurance provider compensated them quickly.
  • 67% said they found the travel insurance claim process to be easy.

For more information, look at our comprehensive guide to making a travel insurance claim and use the MoneySmart service to compare travel insurance plans and find the best and cheapest travel insurance for you.

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The research was conducted on behalf of MoneySmart by Savanta amongst 734 Hong Kong adults who have travelled within the past year. Amongst all respondents surveyed, 69% said they had experienced a flight delay, and 53% said they had experienced a cancellation. The survey was conducted online between the 5th and 15th May 2023 and all participants were 18+. All our data is based on the experiences, perceptions, and reports of Hong Kong travellers from the above survey group. Percentages of delayed and cancelled travellers for each airline were calculated by asking respondents to select all airlines they had flown within the past year and whether they had experienced a delay or cancellation with those airlines. All airlines which had less than 30 respondents flying with them in the past year were excluded. Those who had not experienced flight disruptions with any of the airlines they had flown with were then filtered out from answering the remaining research questions. Participants of our research were shown all leading airlines in Hong Kong, as well as smaller airlines too. MoneySmart is aware that this dataset is not conclusive to the actual data for flight delays and cancellations in Hong Kong in the past year that airlines may have recorded.