Brits going to Asia could see their flight time extended by an hour – and they may not be told before they fly
BRITS heading to Asia should check with their airline before they fly as their travel times could be much longer than they expect.
Right now, flights could be over an hour longer than scheduled due to detours in the air – and passengers are not always warned about the differences in journey times before they book or set off.
And for those who have booked separate connecting flights, it could even mean missing their connection and being left out of pocket because of the delay.
For example, on a flight to Singapore earlier this month, my outbound flight with Singapore Airlines was delayed by around half an hour despite the fact that the plane had left ahead of schedule.
It was an incident-free flight with minimal turbulence that should have got me there early, or at least on time.
But there was no announcement about why the flight got in later than expected.
On my return flight a few days later, the plane arrived around an hour and half behind schedule.
This time, however, the pilot made a pre-flight announcement.
He revealed that the plane is having to make a detour enroute because of closed airspaces.
Pakistan closed its airspace earlier this year amid tensions with India, which saw scores of flights being cancelled at the last minute while others were delayed.
With the airspace still closed, airlines are having to adjust their routes and make detours – but that sometimes means more planes are trying to fly through the same area, causing additional delays to flights.
And given the sudden closure of the airspace at the time, not all airlines have updated their flight schedules accordingly.
A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines told Sun Online Travel: "Singapore Airlines’ flights from the UK to Singapore are currently operating as scheduled.
"Actual flight times and schedules are affected by various factors, including airspace conditions on the day, airport traffic conditions as well as flight time.
"We currently do not overfly Pakistani airspace."
Singapore Airlines isn't the only carrier that's affected by the airspace closure.
While some airlines are warning their passengers at the point of booking or before departure, this isn't always the case and so the onus is on the customer to check.
Thai Airways, which was most heavily affected by the airspace closure, has a section on its website detailing flights that are cancelled and the routes that might be affected, although it's not clear at the point of booking.
Some British Airways flights to Asia are also affected.
A spokesperson for the airline told Sun Online Travel: "We continue to operate all our flights.
"Like all airlines flying to and from Asia, we are re-routing around Pakistani airspace and this will lead to minor delays for a handful of flights.
"We continue to monitor the situation and would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so."
The airline added that it would alert customers in advance of any potential delays.
Eva Air is another airline that's affected.
The airline told Sun Online Travel that its flights to and from Taipei to London, Amsterdam, Vienna (via Bangkok), and Paris are affected.
A notice is displayed on their website at the point of booking, and passengers are redirected to a site to check whether the flights they want to book are affected.
So for Brits who are looking to tag on a connecting flight at the end of their journey, it's worth checking ahead of time.
Not all airlines are as generous when it comes to missed flights, and Brits may find that their travel insurance may leave them without cover too.
Sun Online Travel previously revealed how flights are longer now than in the 90s because airlines are trying to save fuel by flying planes slower,
However, a Which? investigation claimed that airlines were padding out their flight times so that they're always on time.
Airlines have strongly denied this was the case.
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