‘I’m a travel expert – you should always try and book a morning flight’

Going on holiday is all sun, sea and airport booze right? Well, sadly we all know that's not true as travelling can be stressful especially if you're plagued by delays or even face a flight cancellation.

If you're someone who has been confronted with multiple cancellations you're likely looking for a way to make sure it doesn't happen again. Of course, there are no ways to ensure it never happens – as was made clear this year when an air traffic control issue grounded hundreds of flights.

But, apparently, there is a statistical way to reduce the chance of your holiday being disrupted yet again. There are certain times of year and even of the day that have a marked reduction in cancelations or delays.

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Choosing to book either early in the morning or during spring time can apparently make your travel more likely to run smoothly. So if you're sick of chasing refunds or getting stuck abroad it might be wise to choose a flight that fits the criteria.

Coby Benson, solicitor at flight delay compensation solicitors Bott and Co, said: "It’s quite well known in the travel world that if you want to avoid delays and cancellations, the best thing to do is book the first flight of the day. This way your plane is more likely to be at the airport ready for takeoff when it’s scheduled to do so, and less likely to have been impacted by knock-on delays from previous journeys."

According to Expedia’s 2023 Air Travel Hacks Report, flights that depart before 11am are 11% less likely to be impacted by cancellations. So sacrificing some sleep for an early morning flight might save you time in the long run.

The report, which analysed year-to-date flight status data, found journeys in March have the shortest average length of delays, with July having the highest. That's likely to be because the summer holidays put much more pressure on the air travel system and airlines themselves during the school break.

But, it means if you're able to take leave during the spring time you face a better outcome than going during the peak times. An early morning flight in March is most likely to be smooth sailing.

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Mr Benson said: "During the peak travel season people understandably want to get to their destination as quickly as possible so they can start their holiday on the right foot. Delays and cancellations can cause huge headaches and risk overshadowing a person’s well-earned break entirely. Of course there are no guarantees, but it seems booking a flight earlier in the day might give you the best chance of being on the sun lounger when you expected to be."

Booking during a quiet month or early in the morning doesn't mean you absolutely won't be delayed or have your flight cancelled. If this does happen it's important to remember your rights.

Under the EU261 rule, passengers on flights shorter than 1,500km can claim £220 for delays of more than three hours. This can rise to up to £520 if the problem is not what is deemed as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’, and the flight is more than 3,500km and four hours late.

When a travel company cancels your holiday, you're entitled to a full refund. You may be offered alternatives like rebooking or vouchers – you're free to choose these instead, but you can have the refund if that's your preferred option.

The CMA says you're entitled to a refund within 14 days of the cancellation date. It adds: "Your refund should be provided irrespective of whether the company you booked with has received funds from other companies involved in your trip, such as airlines."

If your flight is cancelled but not your trip, ABTA says: "If your flight is cancelled and you’ve booked a package holiday, you are entitled to a suitable alternative flight or, if that’s not possible, a full refund." You can find out more at abta.com and gov.uk.

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