The word delay simply means that the thing is not on time but pushed further in time. However, it does not show any amount (of hours?). In this...

How delayed is the flight? [From 250 Ways to Say it in Business English by Andrew D. Miles]

...rightly expressed? Frankly, I'm not fully convinced. Or it should be...

How many hours the flight is delayed by? That's because when we ask someone about the flight delay at the airport, we certainly require the 'number of hours' not how it got delayed.

If I ask how delayed is the flight, does it mean How the flight is delayed? and I am likely to get an answer - "The pilot did not report on time and this is how the flight is delayed."

I agree that Why is the flight delayed? should be the question but the way I put my answer, how also works, doesn't it?

  • @MaulicV, how long/how much time? Apr 23, 2014 at 11:30
  • @LucianSava use the word delay in that
    – Maulik V
    Apr 23, 2014 at 11:35
  • how long is delayed the flight/ how much time is delayed the fight? Apr 23, 2014 at 11:41
  • that's not proper. The proper sentence I already came up with I guess!
    – Maulik V
    Apr 23, 2014 at 11:41
  • "How long is the flight delayed?", not "how long delayed is the flight?" Apr 23, 2014 at 11:57

2 Answers 2



(At least for what you intend to ask)

Here's why:

  • "how" can refer to degree

    From Wiktionary

    1. To what degree
  • "How old are you?"

    I'm sure you won't answer: I am old because time works that way.

    The answer "I am very old." is perfectly fine, albeit very literal. In the same way, "How delayed is the flight?" begs for a very literal answer: "I am very delayed." It's just that specifying how many hours the flight is delayed or saying your age expounds on "how" better than just saying "very".

    However, if you ask questions like "How good are you?" it is hard to quantify the degree unlike time or age.

  • But the examples given in context to that do not necessary to be replied with the number, here it should be. Degree in that sense is intensity or frequency I guess and this may not have numbers in it.
    – Maulik V
    Apr 23, 2014 at 11:44
  • @MaulikV Clarified.
    – Helix Quar
    Apr 23, 2014 at 11:54

How delayed is the flight?

Is asking specifically for the length of the delay. "25 minutes."

Why is the flight delayed?

Is asking for the reason the flight is delayed. "There is weather in Topeka."

How is the flight delayed?

This is a valid question, but really only if you worked for the airline and wanted to know how to actually record the delay.

How long is the delay? or How long is the flight delayed?

Feels like the most correct way to express this.

  • I wouldn't say the last are the "most correct" ways, but they are the most standard, in the sense that they're easier to use and they sound more polite. "How delayed is the flight?" isn't usually the conversation-starter, but instead a response/reaction ("Flight XYZ has been delayed." "Excuse me, how delayed is the flight (exactly)? I have a transfer to catch!")
    – Iolite_Jay
    Feb 23, 2018 at 2:52

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