Why is my flight delayed? 7 surprising reasons

Passengers love to complain and tweet the airline when their flight is delayed or cancelled. But beyond the classic “operational reasons”, “technical difficulties” and “flight traffic”, you’d be surprised to know how original the reasons for delayed flights can get. We’ve gathered some of the most surprising ones for no other reason than your pure enjoyment.

1. Coffee machines

True story. Did you know that airplanes’ coffee machines are quite different from the one that helps you survive on Monday mornings (or any morning, for that matter)? They’re made in a way that allows water to boil properly even in high altitudes and the electric circuit is only compatible with that of an an airplane.
Well the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) in the US and the EASA (European Aviation Security Agency) require coffee makers to have safety features as prevention for electric fires. Should a coffee maker misbehave, the maintenance crew is required to intervene. There goes your delay. But it’s either that or leaving without coffee…

2) The weather

It’s actually not really surprising. Except in this kind of situation:

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The explanation, provided to us by a flight attendant, is that the whole itinerary must be free of any weather obstacle. Pretty obvious when you think about it - but I agree, it’s more fun to complain.

3) Turtles on the runway

JFK airport, in New York, occasionally becomes the privileged passage for turtles to go lay their eggs in Jamaica bay. If at this moment no other runway is available, as it’s most likely to be the case, you’re in for a nice delay - turtle speed.

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4) Furious (rich) passengers

What would you do if the flight attendant dared to bring your nuts in a packet and not in a silver platter? If you’re an airline’s chairman’s daughter, you might get as mad as ordering the pilot to turn the plane back around. And earn yourself a year in jail for interfering with the security of the aircraft and its passengers. And yet, it did happen to Korean Air.

5) Being in the same flight as a Frenchman

You all know how inappropriately Frenchmen can behave sometimes (what!? I'm french, I can say that!). Being a famous actor doesn’t absolve you from the rules - on the contrary. After embarking for his flight to Dublin, Gerard Depardieu felt the sudden urge to relieve himself. The seat belt sign being switched on for take-off, the flight attendant obviously denied him to go to the restroom. Which didn’t stop him to “pee like an elephant”, as he later put it: he elegantly (nope…) relieved his bladder into a bottle as well as on the floor in the aisle, grounding the plane for an extra 2 hours. Be warned about Frenchman.

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6) Criminal on board

Don’t freak out, but if you’re reading this at the airport, the guy next to you may be involved in illegal business and wanted by the police. During a flight from Washington to Beijing, the plane had to turn back around so that the FBI could apprehend a kidnapper. But if that happens to you, you’re probably one of the unluckiest people on earth. I would not go out when there’s thunder if I were you.

7) Bird strike

A bird strike is totally different from a French strike: yes, both cause flight delays, but one is related to people protesting their poor working conditions, while the other involves birds flying into the airplane. The latest one happened to Qatar Airways and they had to make an emergency landing in Istanbul.

Don’t forget that although delays are a real pain, you might be entitled to up to 600€ in compensation. And if the reason is original, at least you’ll have a good story to tell! Stay tuned for more about travel and passenger rights!