Sorry, No Hotels Available. The Cities With The Fewest Hotels

When a big event rolls into town, many cities can struggle to cope with the demand for hotel rooms.

Airbnb and other holiday rental sites have alleviated such problems, although in many cases prices can be significantly higher than normal for guests.

Which cities have the fewest number of hotels for visiting tourists?


I used Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking (tourist arrivals) to identify the top 100 cities for tourism in 2015.

Using this list of 100, I then turned to Tripadvisor to identify number of accommodation options in each city. Tripadvisor splits accommodation options into 4 types:

  • Hotels
  • B&B and Inns
  • Speciality Lodging
  • Holiday Rentals

Note, the “holiday rental” category does not include rentals from popular sites like Airbnb and other equivalents which will result in a lower number reported for this category than is correct.


Top 10 Destinations by Tourist Arrivals (2015)

Rank 2015 Arrivals City Country 2014 Arrivals (‘000) 2015 Arrivals (‘000) Y-o-YGrowth 2014-2015
1 Hong Kong Hong Kong, China 27,770.50 26,686.00 3.91%
2 Bangkok Thailand 17,031.70 18,734.90 -10.00%
3 London UK 17,404.00 18,580.00 -6.76%
4 Singapore Singapore 16,795.60 16,869.40 -0.44%
5 Paris France 15,058.10 15,023.00 0.23%
6 Macau Macau 14,566.00 14,308.50 1.77%
7 Dubai United Arab Emirates 13,200.00 14,200.00 -7.58%
8 Istanbul Turkey 11,843.00 12,414.60 -4.83%
9 New York City US 12,230.00 12,300.00 -0.57%
10 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 11,629.60 12,153.00 -4.50%

Full table.

Hong Kong welcomed 28 million tourists in 2015, 10 million more than the second touristed city, Bangkok (17 million). It also saw the fastest growth (4%) for arrivals in 2015 (top 10 only). Jerba, Tunisia saw the biggest increase in tourists (top 100) (17%), whilst Osaka, Japan saw the biggest decrease in tourist arrivals (top 100) (-52%).

Top 100 Destinations by Tourist Arrivals (2015)


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To put things into perspective, while all cities in the top 10 received more than 10 million arrivals the majority of cities received less than 5 million (67).


Interactive map.

The top destinations in the top 100 fall primarily in Europe and Asia.

Top 10 cities by number of accommodation options

Rank Accommodation count City Country count Hotels count B&B count Specialty Lodging count Holiday Rentals total accommodation
1 Orlando US 335 2 17 15,796 16150
2 Rome Italy 1291 3763 1097 8549 14700
3 London UK 1088 574 837 7,654 10153
4 Beijing China 6449 1292 925 44 8710
5 Paris France 1801 129 157 6,265 8352
6 Shanghai China 4999 728 292 62 6081
7 Mugla Turkey 1238 912 954 2,792 5896
8 Mexico City Mexico 1691 1796 1299 964 5750
9 Phuket Thailand 754 997 849 3064 5664
10 Barcelona Spain 521 326 764 3,984 5595

Full list.

Orlando does not have the most hotels (Beijing does, 6449) but it does have the highest number of accommodation options, 16150 in total (most of which are classified as holiday rentals by TripAdvisor).

The top 4 cities with the most hotels are all in China: Beijing (6449), Shanghai (4999), Guangzhou (3394), Shenzhen (2754).

World largest hotels by rooms

Rank Name Country City Rooms/suites
1 First World Hotel Malaysia Genting Highlands 7,351
2 The Venetian and The Palazzo United States Las Vegas 7,117
3 MGM Grand Las Vegas + The Signature United States Las Vegas 6,852
4 CityCenter United States Las Vegas 6,790
5 Sands Cotai Central Macau Macau 6,000
6 Izmailovo Hotel Russia Moscow 5,000
7 Wynn Las Vegas + Encore Las Vegas United States Las Vegas 4,750
8 Mandalay Bay + Delano + Four Seasons United States Las Vegas 4,426
9 Luxor Las Vegas United States Las Vegas 4,407
10 Ambassador City Jomtien Thailand Pattaya 4,219

Full list.

The First World Hotel in Malaysia holds the crown for the largest hotel by number of rooms (7351). 6 of the top 10 largest hotels by number of rooms can be found in Las Vegas.

Fewest accommodation options per tourist

Arrivals / accom rank City Country Accommodation options total Arrivals 2015 total Arrivals per accom
1 Macau Macau 110 14,308,500 130,077
2 Edirne Turkey 58 3,190,400 55,007
3 Pulau Pinang Malaysia 53 2,774,500 52,349
4 Burgas Bulgaria 97 2,842,800 29,307
5 Manama Bahrain 234 6,413,200 27,407
6 Hong Kong Hong Kong, China 1469 26,686,000 18,166
7 Singapore Singapore 963 16,869,400 17,518
8 Doha Qatar 169 2,930,000 17,337
9 Antalya Turkey 749 10,868,700 14,511
10 Mecca Saudi Arabia 516 7,175,200 13,905

Full list.

As an average figure, each accommodation option (hotel, B&B, etc) in Macau must serve 130,077 tourists over a year. Assuming each stays for an average of 7 days and the majority of those bookings are 1 room for 2 people, that means there must at least 1,251 rooms at each accommodation option ((130077/2)/52), assuming maximum efficiency. After further research, I found official figures (2015) that stated there are 29,725 rooms spread across 73 hotels in Macau (note, the above calculation factors in other accommodation options – not just hotels).

Compare that to Orlando, ranked 100 for arrivals / accommodation, where there is 1 accommodation option to every 309 tourists. Tourists have significantly more choice here.


I used number of accommodation options, not rooms for these calculations. Cities like Macau and Las Vegas tend to have “mega-hotels” of 3000+ rooms each. It would be more accurate to calculate scarcity of hotel rooms against tourists, as opposed to individual hotels (and other accommodation options) as has been used in this post.

As discussed in the Methodology section of this post, the data does not include rentals from popular sites like Airbnb and other equivalents resulting in a lower numbers reported for this category than actually available. If it was possible to get an accurate count of these rentals this would improve my current workings.


Each hotel (and other accommodation type) must serve 130,077 tourists in Macau.

Get the Data

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Cairo, the Cheapest City to Live in 2017

I’m always looking for new places to call home. Cost of living is an important consideration.

Having lived in London, Hong Kong and San Francisco I know how disheartening it is to watch a significant portion of income go on rent — especially when friends from other cities wonder why anyone would ever pay $3000 a month in rent.

When travelling on business or vacation the cost of living variations can be even more astounding. According to Nomadlist (Feb 2017) you can live comfortably $600 a month in Chaing Mai, Thailand.

How has cost of living changed over the last few years around the world? Are there any cities you can live cheaply and comfortably, without being cut off from the outside world?


I pulled data from Numbeo’s Cost of Living rankings, starting 2009. Numbeo collates data on cost of living – down to the cost of milk – from cities around the world. They also collate datasets for other localised metrics including property prices and air quality.

The index uses New York as the index value (New York = 100). The index values therefore represent changes in cost of living against the current cost of living in New York. I used a subset of Numbeo’s Cost of Living rankings using cities that only had data for every year from 2017 to 2011. The Cost of Living index does not account for rental costs.


Most expensive cities 2017

2017 Top 10 Most Expensive (rank changes 2011 - 2017)

Download chart.

You can see there has been some movement into the top 10 in recent years — most notably Reykjavik, New York, Seattle and San Francisco all becoming more expensive.

Rekyavik has gone from 42nd to 4th most expensive in just over 5 years. Similarly, San Francisco has moved from 57th to 8th over the same period for cost of living ranking.

Most expensive cities 2011 vs. 2017

City Country 2017 rank 2016 – 2017 2011 – 2017
Geneva, Switzerland 1 3.72 -10.92
Zurich, Switzerland 2 -0.95 -13.89
Stavanger, Norway 3 5.28 -33.36
Reykjavik, Iceland 4 14.6 18.28
Oslo, Norway 5 10.95 -42.33
Bergen, Norway 6 1.78 -38.06
New York, NY, United States 7 0 0.00
San Francisco, CA, United States 8 -4.22 11.06
Tokyo, Japan 9 5.88 -9.06
Seattle, WA, United States 10 7.32 -3.19

Full list.

In real terms, 7 of the 10 cities (in the top 10) have seen cost of living fall vs. New York in the period 2011 to 2017. In Oslo it has fallen by over 42 points! Only San Francisco and Reykjavik increased in price by over 11 and 18 points respectively over the 7 year period.

Between 2016 and 2017 cost of living actually decreased vs. New York. Oslo, whilst seeing the biggest drop between 2011 – 2017 of 42 points, saw a large increase of cost of living between 2016 – 2017 of 11 points.

Cheapest cities 2017

2017 Top 10 cheapest rank changes 2011 2017

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Overall, the cheapest cities have remained fairly static over the years — up until 2017 Indian cities were at the bottom list (until Cairo in 2017).

Over the last few year Cairo has seen a turbulent change in cost of living compared to New York. It finds itself at the bottom of our list (144th) comparing 2017 to 2011.

Most notably, Baku in Azerbaijan has seen a massive fall in cost of living compared to New York falling from 83rd in 2015 to 136th / 144 in 2017.

Cheapest cities 2011 vs 2017

City Country 2017 rank 2016 – 2017 2011 – 2017
Delhi, India 135 0.45 -7.63
Baku, Azerbaijan 136 -2.12 -38.72
Kiev, Ukraine 137 -2.05 -22.7
Pune, India 138 0.65 -1.84
Bangalore, India 139 1.16 -5.89
Chennai, India 140 1.98 -4.46
Kolkata, India 141 1.73 -5.9
Ahmedabad, India 142 3.26 -11.07
Hyderabad, India 143 0 -7.98
Cairo, Egypt 144 -14.97 -28.56

Full list.

In real terms between 2011 and 2017 cost of living in Baku, Azerbaijan has fallen by just short of 39 points compared to New York (most of this change happened in 2015). Cairo saw the largest drop in index value between 2016 and 2017, by -15 points.

Biggest changes in cost of living vs New York

City Country 2017 rank 2016 – 2017 2011 – 2017
Perth, Australia 15 0.65 -44.42
Oslo, Norway 5 10.95 -42.33
Turin, Italy 70 -3.11 -40.49
Baku, Azerbaijan 136 -2.12 -38.72
Dublin, Ireland 33 -0.62 -38.48
Bergen, Norway 6 1.78 -38.06
Vienna, Austria 65 2.72 -37.33
Brasilia, Brazil 80 15.37 -37.26
Amsterdam, Netherlands 35 1.72 -36.19
Copenhagen, Denmark 12 -1.32 -35.91

Full list.

Whilst Baku has seen a significant drop in cost of living versus New York, some of the most expensive cities have seen the biggest drops in cost of living between 2011 – 2017 — showing just how expensive they once were! In Perth, Oslo and Turin index values have all dropped by over 40 points. Many non-US cities have all seen drops in cost of living vs New York.


Numbeo only provides index values for each of the cities against a New York baseline. It would be good to compare actual cost of living rather than just index values to make the numbers more quantifiable.


Cairo, Egypt is a major city with one of the lowest costs of living.


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

In Madagascar Tourists Spend Over 10 Times The Countries Average Income

In most cities and top tourist destinations areas have emerged selling variety of wares to tourists.

A boom in tourism can change the fate of local populations.

Chinese travellers spent a record $165 billion USD abroad in 2014 – an exceptional 27% increase over 2013 ($36 billion USD). Second are US travellers who spent a total of $111 billion USD abroad in 2014.

Which countries benefit the most from tourist spending?


Every year the UN World Tourism Organisation publishes a report titled “Tourism Highlights“. For this post I used the 2015 version (data reported is for 2013). The report contains tourism statistics for 217 countries, including inbound tourist arrivals and receipts.

In 2013 Gallup posted data on median incomes for countries which I used to compare against tourism receipts.

Similarly, the World Bank publishes yearly data on GDP by country (I used data from 2014).


Receipts total per tourist

revenue per tourist usd map

Full size map.

Some countries, as expected, make very little per tourist. Take the Democratic Republic of Congo which earns on average $5.24 USD per international tourist. Others, strangely, make a very large amount per tourist. International tourists in Belarus, using UNWTO figures, spend over $5,700 USD each during their trip!

Did you know? The countries that earn the most per international tourist are: 1. Belarus ($5,773 USD), 2. Luxembourg ($5,131 USD), 3. Australia ($4,897 USD).

Did you know? The countries that earn the least per international tourist are: 168. Lesotho ($121.88 USD), 169. Swaziland ($13.43 USD), 170. Democratic Republic of Congo ($5.24 USD).

Full rankings.

Yearly incomes

median per capita income worldwide usd map

Full size map.

Did you know? The countries with the highest median salaries per capita are: 1. Norway ($19,308 USD), 2. Sweden ($18,632 USD), 3. Luxembourg ($18,418 USD).

Did you know? The countries with the lowest median salaries per capita are: 128. Mali ($165 USD), 129. Burundi ($129 USD), 130. Liberia ($118 USD).

Full rankings.

Income vs. tourist receipts

median income per capita income per tourist

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Most countries (83) have higher median salaries compared to the average a tourist would spend in the country, unsurprisingly. However, in 31 countries receipts per tourist actually exceed median incomes. In 7 of these 31 countries receipts per tourist exceed median income per capita by over $1,000 USD, and 2 by over $2,000 USD (India and Madagascar).

10 countries with biggest difference in median income and tourist revenue

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rank Destination Revenue p/tourist (USD) Median Income p/Capita (USD) Median Income – Tourist revenue (USD) Per Tourist Revenue as % of Median Income
1 Madagascar 2,928.57 205 (2,723.57) 1428.57%
2 Mali 1,253.52 165 (1,088.52) 759.71%
3 Tanzania 1,768.58 384 (1,384.58) 460.57%
4 India 2,640.21 616 (2,024.21) 428.61%
5 Burkina Faso 701.83 168 (533.83) 417.76%
6 Benin 818.18 237 (581.18) 345.22%
7 Uganda 978.44 296 (682.44) 330.55%
8 Sierra Leone 728.40 233 (495.40) 312.62%
9 Angola 1,898.46 720 (1,178.46) 263.68%
10 Yemen, Rep. 949.49 400 (549.49) 237.37%

Full table.

Madagascar receives a staggering 1428.57% more from tourists than the median income of its residents — in dollar terms a difference of $2,732.57 USD.

GDP figures

gdp per capita map

Full size map.

Did you know? The countries with the highest GDP per capita are: 1. Luxembourg ($113,727 USD), 2. Norway ($102,832 USD), 3. Qatar ($96,077 USD)

Did you know? The countries with the lowest GDP per capita are: 185. Central African Republic ($326 USD), 186. Burundi ($259 USD), 187. Malawi ($240 USD).

Full rankings.

GDP vs. tourist receipts

gdp per capita income per tourist

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As with income, most countries have a positive difference between GDP per capita and income per tourist. However, 10 countries have a negative difference — that is, tourists spend more than the countries GDP per capita.

10 countries with biggest difference in gdp and tourist revenue

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rank Destination Revenue p/tourist (USD) GDP p/Capita (USD) GDP – Tourist revenue (USD) Per tourist Revenue as % of GDP
1 Madagascar 2,928.57 462.97 (2,465.60) 632.56%
2 Tanzania 1,768.58 910.38 (858.20) 194.27%
3 Mali 1,253.52 659.52 (594.00) 190.07%
4 India 2,640.21 1,455.10 (1,185.11) 181.45%
5 Ethiopia 911.89 503.90 (407.99) 180.97%
6 Haiti 1,352.38 810.33 (542.05) 166.89%
7 Uganda 978.44 674.34 (304.10) 145.10%
8 Solomon Islands 2,541.67 1,889.99 (651.67) 134.48%
9 Niger 471.54 418.49 (53.05) 112.68%
10 Moldova 2,354.17 2,243.98 (110.19) 104.91%

Full table.

These are the 10 countries that receive more per tourist than their GDP per capita. Comparing tourism revenue as a percentage of GDP per capita Madagascar comes out with a difference of 632.56%!


I realise that using median income against tourism receipts is not a truly representative metric. Many countries have significant poverty and large gaps between incomes, all of which would be hugely beneficial context to add into the comparison.


In 2013, Madagascar welcomed 198,000 tourists who spent on average $2,928.57 USD each. That’s 633% more than their GDP per capita and 1429% more than the median income of their residents.

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  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Passport Power Rank 2017

Wow. What a year it has been since we put together the 2016 version of our Passport Power Rank.

The UK left the EU, potentially losing visa-free travel privileges within the area (and the distinctive red passport).

America voted in Donald Trump who swiftly tried to bring in a ridiculous travel ban, build a wall, …. I could go on.

How have these events effected a citizen’s ability to travel visa-free? Here is the 2017 version of our Passport Power Rank.


Each year Henley & Partners publishes a “Visa Restriction Index”, a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom that their citizens enjoy.

Points are awarded to countries for the number of destinations that offer visa-free travel to their citizens. e-Visas are treated the same as visas on arrival. Where the conditions for obtaining an e-visa are straightforward (fee, return ticket, hotel reservation), a visa-free point was assigned.

There are 219 destination countries (territories) in total. The maximum attainable score is 218 (points are not assigned for a national traveling to their own country).


Best and worst passports for travel


Full-size map.

 Rank 2017 Country Visa free destinations 2017
1 Germany 176
2 Sweden 175
3 Italy 174
3 Spain 174
3 Finland 174
3 United States 174
3 Denmark 174
8 France 173
8 United Kingdom 173
8 Belgium 173
8 Netherlands 173
8 Singapore 173
8 Austria 173
8 Norway 173
8 Luxembourg 173

 Rank 2017 Country Visa free destinations 2017
185 Lebanon 37
185 South Sudan 37
185 Kosovo 37
185 Sudan 37
185 Ethiopia 37
190 Palestine, State of 36
190 Nepal 36
192 Yemen 35
192 Eritrea 35
194 Libya 33
195 Somalia 30
196 Syrian Arab Republic 29
197 Pakistan 28
198 Iraq 27
199 Afghanistan 24

Full rankings.

Germany tops the list for a fourth year in a row with 176 destinations accessible without a visa for passport holders (out of a possible 219). Down one from 2016.

Interestingly, various EU Member States have varying visa free travel to non-EU countries.

Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan prop up the table, each with visa-free access to fewer than 30 countries.

Year-on-year changes

Total of Visa Free Relationships by Year 2013 - 2017

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Visa-free travel between countries increased again between 2016 and 2017 – albeit at a much slower rate then 2015 and 2016 – by 55 extra visa-free destinations in total.

2016-2017 change in visa-free destinations count

86 passports had visa-free travel increased, 70 decreased, and 43 had no change at all.

Biggest visa restriction changes in 2017

Change in visa free destinations (top 8 2017)

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The biggest mover was Marshall Islands which gained an additional 33 destinations its holders can travel to without the requiring a visa. Peru (+32 visa-free destinations), Micronesia (+31), Soloman Islands (+30), Kiribati (+30) and Tuvalu were the other signifiant movers.

At the other end of the scale was Jordan (-4), Ghana (-5) and Dijibouti (-5) had the amount of countries they could travel to without needing a travel visa decrease. Notably, India (-3), Hong Kong (-2), UK (-2) and France (-2) also saw visa-free travel privileges decrease. Perhaps a sign of things to come for the UK since Brexit.


Visa restrictions can change for a wide variety of reasons: security, political, social, etc. For additional studies it would be to add such context for each country to try and better understand why visa requirements seem to change so frequently.


The German passport is the most powerful allowing visa-free travel to 176 countries. In contrast, Afghani’s can only travel to 24 countries without a visa.

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  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

China Earns 8 billion USD Each Year From Visas

The American Passport has some of the fewest foreign travel visa requirements for holders (ranked 8th for freedom of movement in 2016).

Many countries still require inbound tourist to pay for a visa for reasons from political agreements (or disagreements) to economic drivers. In some cases, transit visas are required if you’re only transiting through an airport within a country.

What country is the most expensive for tourist visas? What country earns the most from tourists?


VisaHQ provides a service to help travellers apply for tourism visas online. Their database contains costs charged by each countries embassy for issuing travel visas to American citizens.

For this post I only considered the Embassy fee, ignoring any additional costs. As each country offers visas of differing lengths (days), conditions (number of entries allowed), and Embassy processing speeds, I used the cheapest visa provided for each country.

Visa costs and availability are always subject to change. Data was collected from VisaHQ during April 2017.

I calculated potential visa revenue using visa costs to US tourists against all inbound tourists of all nationalities in 2013 from a UNWTO report (“US visa cost” X “inbound tourists”).


Most expensive tourist visas for Americans by county


Full-size map.

Rank (cost) Country alpha-3 region Embassy fee USD
1 Nigeria NGA Africa 265
2 Cook Islands COK Oceania 200
3 Pakistan PAK Asia 192
4 Congo Republic COD Africa 175
5 Afghanistan AFG Asia 160
5 Algeria DZA Africa 160
5 Bangladesh BGD Asia 160
5 Bolivia BTN Asia 160
5 Brazil BRA Americas 160
5 Gabon GAB Africa 160
5 Guinea GIN Africa 160
5 Mozambique MOZ Africa 160
5 Paraguay PRY Americas 160
5 Qatar QAT Asia 160
5 Sierra Leone SLE Africa 160
5 South Sudan SSD Africa 160
5 Uzbekistan UZB Asia 160

Full list.

Nigeria is the most expensive country for a tourist visa — $265 USD gets you a multiple-entry visa (leave and return as many times as desired) valid for 2 years.

The top 5 most expensive countries for tourist visas for American visitors spans 17 countries. 8 in this list are African nations, 6 Asian, 2 Americas, and 1 Oceanic. In total American citizens are required to pay for tourist visas to enter 89 countries.

Entry into the EU is completely free for US passport holders. In total US citizens can travel to 142 countries without having to pay for a tourist visa.

Potential visa revenue by country

Country Embassy fee USD International tourist arrivals (1000) Potential visa revenue USD
China 140 55686 7,796,040,000
Russia 123 28356 3,487,788,000
Saudi Arabia 107 13380 1,431,660,000
Brazil 160 5813 930,080,000
Turkey 20 37795 755,900,000
India 77 6968 535,839,200
Algeria 160 2733 437,280,000
Iran 90 4769 429,210,000
Qatar 160 2611 417,760,000
Uzbekistan 160 1969 315,040,000

Full list.

China could potentially earn almost $8 billion USD from inbound tourist visas (56 million tourists paying $140 USD a each). Russia and Saudi Arabia also stand to raise billions from tourist visas, $3.5 billions USD and $1.5 billion USD a piece.

121 countries raise no revenue from tourist visas (or equivalent visa-free entry) issued to Americans.


I calculated potential visa revenue using visa costs to US tourists against all inbound tourists of all nationalities in 2013 (“US visa cost” X “inbound tourists”). Clearly this is incorrect. Many inbound tourists of other nationalities will likely be subject to different visa requirements and costs when compared to US citizens. If I could get a breakdown of visa costs and inbound tourists by nationality the accuracy of this calculation could be significantly improved.


In total American citizens are required to pay for tourist visas to enter 89 countries. Nigeria charges Americans the most for a tourist visa, $265. China could potentially earn $8 billion from inbound arrivals (assuming all visitors were tourists and required to pay the same visa costs as Americans).

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Safest Cities 2017

Some cities are incredibly dangerous. In Caracas, Venezuela about 1.3 people were murdered per 1,000 in 2016 (almost 12 per day)! Though in certain cities I’ve lived, 12 homicides a year would be considered high.

Murders are only one variable in determining how “safe” a city is. Other serious crimes also play a determining factor.

In a more positive take on our “Most Dangerous Cities 2017” post, I wanted to uncover where the safest cities on earth were.


I used Numbeo’s Safe City Index for analysis.

Numbeo surveys visitors to their website about city crime to produce their Safe City Index. Questions for their surveys are similar to many similar scientific and government surveys. They use their own data due to inconsistencies with government reporting of crime data worldwide.

The Safe City Index is an estimation of overall level of crime in a given city. If the city has a high Safe City index, it is considered very safe (low crime). The maximum attainable index value is 100.


Top 10 Safest Cities 2017

Top 10 Safest cities 2017 (Numbeo Safety Index)

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Rank City Continent Safety Index
1 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Asia 84.49
2 Munich, Germany Europe 84.28
3 Taipei, Taiwan Asia 84.24
4 Basel, Switzerland Europe 84.18
5 Arhus, Denmark Europe 83.99
6 Heidelberg, Germany Europe 83.64
7 Doha, Qatar Asia 83.43
8 Singapore, Singapore Asia 83.42
9 Mangalore, India Asia 82.49
10 Zurich, Switzerland Europe 81.86
369 Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Americas 22.13
370 Pretoria, South Africa Africa 22.01
371 Recife, Brazil Americas 22
372 Johannesburg, South Africa Africa 21.51
373 Durban, South Africa Africa 21.42
374 Selangor, Malaysia Asia 21.1
375 Fortaleza, Brazil Americas 16.1
376 Pietermaritzburg, South Africa Africa 15.77
377 San Pedro Sula, Honduras Americas 14.41
378 Caracas, Venezuela Oceania 13.39

Full list (378 total).

In the 2017 Numbeo Safe City index, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates ranks 1st. All of the top 10 have an index value of 80 points and above (out of a maximum of 100).

Caracas, Venezuela ranks last for safety with an index value of 13.39 points. It’s not surprising with about 1.3 people murdered per 1,000 people in 2016 (see our dangerous cities 2017 post)!

Safest cities 2017 (Numbeo Safety Index) histogram

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The median index value is 55.82 points. The mean index value is 56.08 points.

Safest Regions 2017


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Region Mean Average Safe City Index Value 2017 Count of cities considered
Europe 59.40 164
Asia 58.92 112
Oceania 55.66 16
Africa 50.31 42
Americas 40.62 42

Full list.

It’s a close run battle for the safest region with 0.48 index points the difference between 1st and 2nd, Europe and Asia respectively. Cities within North and South America (Americas) have the lowest average index points (40.62 points) — almost 10 points lower than Africa).

Changes in safety 2012 – 2017

Change in safety index value 2017 - 2012 histogram

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I analysed 126 cities that had Numbeo Safe City Index data spanning 2012 – 2017. Of these 126 cities, 72 are safer than in 2012, 54 are more dangerous.

City 2012 2017 2017 – 2012 pc dif 2017 rank (/376) 2012 – 2017 change rank
Gurgaon, India 15.89 37.54 136.25% 326 1
Beijing, China 32.99 58.35 76.87% 173 2
Kolkata, India 27.97 48.89 74.79% 259 3
Geneva, Switzerland 42.19 72.52 71.89% 72 4
Monterrey, Mexico 29.17 49.33 69.11% 252 5
Johannesburg, South Africa 13.04 21.51 64.95% 372 6
Vienna, Austria 48.18 78.19 62.29% 32 7
Mexico City, Mexico 20.94 33.9 61.89% 343 8
Boston, MA, United States 40.62 64.25 58.17% 128 9
Miami, FL, United States 30.73 46.11 50.05% 276 10
Ankara, Turkey 79.38 57.15 -28.00% 179 117
Cairo, Egypt 61.33 44.09 -28.11% 293 118
Amman, Jordan 77.21 55.2 -28.51% 199 119
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 32.92 22.13 -32.78% 369 120
Delhi, India 58.75 39.21 -33.26% 315 121
Chicago, IL, United States 52.58 34.61 -34.18% 341 122
Oslo, Norway 82.03 51.2 -37.58% 237 123
Curitiba, Brazil 57.71 34.84 -39.93% 338 124
Atlanta, GA, United States 59.38 35.19 -40.74% 336 125
Bogota, Colombia 62.5 36.36 -41.82% 328 126

Full list (126 total).

Most improved cities for safety 2012 - 2017

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Gurgaon, India has improved by Safe City index value between 2012 and 2017 (+136.25%). The city now ranks 326 out of 376 cities in 2017 with a Safe City index value of 37.54.

Top 10 cities becoming more dangerous 2012 - 2017

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At the other end of the scale Bogota, Colombia, saw its Safe City index value drop by a massive -41.82%. The city had a Safe City index value of 62.5 in 2012, in 2014 it had fallen to 44.31. It now stands at a value of 36.36 points, ranking 328 / 376 in 2017 (only slightly more dangerous than Gurgaon, India, the most improved city).


Using index values from a respected survey provides an aggregated view of safety. In out “Most Dangerous Cities 2017” post we considered actual murder rates to judge danger. The analysis of this post could be improved – or at least offer more insight – if we considered actual crime statistics for each city.


The world’s safest city in 2017 is Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Get the data

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Most Dangerous Cities 2017

More people than ever are migrating to the worlds largest cities for work and play.

However, as the population of urban areas increase it often brings with it an increase in violent crime, exacerbated by high population density and limited law enforcement.

Where are the worlds most dangerous cities?


I used a list of the 50 most dangerous cities (by murder rate) curated on Wikipedia. The data reported is from 2016. Figures include both homicide rate and population by city.

Top 10 most dangerous cities by murder rate

Top 10 most dangerous cities by murder rate (2016)

Download chart.

Homicide danger rank Municipality, Country Continent Homicides 2016 Homicides per 1,000 % Population Killed year
1 Caracas, Venezuela South America 4,308 1.3035 0.13%
2 Acapulco, Mexico North America 918 1.1324 0.11%
3 San Pedro Sula, Honduras North America 845 1.1209 0.11%
4 Distrito Central, Honduras North America 1,027 0.8509 0.09%
5 Ciudad Victoria, Mexico North America 293 0.8467 0.08%
6 MaturĂ­n, Venezuela South America 499 0.8421 0.08%
7 San Salvador, El Salvador North America 1,483 0.8339 0.08%
8 Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela South America 727 0.8284 0.08%
9 Valencia, Venezuela South America 1,124 0.7202 0.07%
10 Natal, Brazil South America 1,097 0.6956 0.07%

Full list.

Caracas, Venezuela tops the list of the most dangerous cities with about 1.3 people murdered per 1,000 people (almost 12 homicides per day). Looking at it another way, 0.13% of the population of Caracas is murdered every year.

Acapulco, Mexico (1.13 p/1,000) and San Pedro Sula, Honduras (1.2 p/1,000) are 2nd and 3rd respectively for number of homicides. The top three cities all have a probability of being murdered greater than 1 in 1000!


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To put this into perspective, Durban, South Africa, which ranks number 50th for homicides has a murder rate of 0.34 people murdered per 1,000 people (equivalent to 34.4 people per 100,000). Whilst still worryingly high, especially for tourists, it is nowhere near the murder rate of the top 3!

The eagle-eyed readers might have also noticed the top 10 most dangerous cities are all found in either North or South America. No Asian, Oceanic or European cities make the list.

Most dangerous countries


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Country Count of cities in top 50 Total homicides 2016
Brazil 19 16123
Venezuela 7 8106
South Africa 3 4190
Mexico 8 3905
Colombia 4 1950
Honduras 2 1872
Guatemala 1 1596
El Salvador 1 1483
United States 4 984
Jamaica 1 545

Full list.

Brazilian cities are deadly! 19 of the top 50 cities by homicide rate are all found in Brazil and account for a total of 16,123 murders (that’s just over 44 per day). Another surprise, for me anyway, was that the United States comes in 4th on the list.

Most dangerous continents


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Continent Count of cities in top 50 2016 Total homicides 2016
South America 30 26179
North America 17 10385
Africa 3 4190

Full table.

South American cities make up 30 cities of the top 50. Again, it is important to stress that 19 of these are Brazilian. Brazil would top this list if it was considered on its own. In South America there was 26,179 homicides from just 30 cities in 2016!


I’d love to do a more positive post on the safest cities with fewest homicides (watch your inboxes, subscribers). This analysis would be very interesting to compare to the top 50 most dangerous cities to get an idea of the difference between best and worst cities.

Context is essential to understanding homicide rates. If it was possible to aggregate the data associated with each one of these deaths (from police reports, for example) we could examine the causes of high murder rates.


Caracas, Venezuela tops the list of the most dangerous cities with about 1.3 people murdered per 1,000 people in 2016. Looking at it another way, 0.13% of the population of Caracas was murdered in 2016.

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  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Visit Mexico: Sun, Sea… and Homicides

Not many people would choose to holiday in a dangerous area — although some would.

War torn countries often see foreign visitors in the form of armies and press personnel, not those who want to relax on the beach. As such, I believe countries seen as violent attract far fewer tourists than those deemed peaceful (one of the reasons you see Western countries heavily market their safe image to tourists following a terrorist event).

I’ve often heard friends debating visiting countries that I would classify as “safe”. Which left me thinking; should I be worried about visiting certain places that I didn’t immediately considered dangerous? Here are the numbers….


The US State department regularly publishes travel warnings to citizens reflecting dangers within foreign countries. This not only includes warnings not to travel, but also deaths and injuries citizens have suffered in foreign countries. Data.World collated a series of data sets in March 2017 related to these travel warnings for the last 7 years (since 2009 – 2016). In total 240 countries were considered, only 53 of those were issues warnings by the US State Department.


Top 20 Countries by Travel Warnings Issued

Country Region Travel Warnings Issued
Mexico Americas 28
Mali Africa 26
Israel Asia 25
Pakistan Asia 25
Iraq Asia 24
Afghanistan Asia 23
Nigeria Africa 23
Syria Asia 23
Algeria Africa 22
Iran Asia 22
Yemen Asia 22
Burundi Africa 21
Central African Republic Africa 21
Kenya Africa 20
Lebanon Asia 20
Philippines Asia 20
Chad Africa 19
Libya Africa 19
Sudan Africa 19
Colombia Americas 18
Congo Africa 18
Eritrea Africa 18

Full list.

If you expected Iraq or Afghanistan to be top of this list due to recent conflicts, you’d be wrong. Mexico, a country that received 71.5 million US visitors over period considered, had 28 travel warnings issued against it. Similarly Israel, a country that welcome 3.1 million tourists in 2015 of which 637,000 we’re by US citizens (4.77 million over period considered), had the third largest number of travel warning issues by the US State Department.

Top Regions by Travel Warnings Issued

Region Travel Warnings Issued
Africa 50
Asia 47
Americas 46
Europe 42
NA 33
Oceania 22

Full list.

The difference between total travel warnings issued by continent is smaller than you may have initially thought. Africa (54 countries) has just 8 more travel warnings than Europe (50 counties).

Note, NA region generally classifies many smaller island territories. See this table for list of countries classified NA.

Top Cause of Death

Cause of death Type Count
Homicide 1243
Suicide 927
Veh. Accid-Auto Vehicle 857
Drowning 776
Other Accident 740
Veh. Accid-Motorcy. Vehicle 247
Air Accident Air 164
Vehicle Accident – Auto Vehicle 152
Disaster 144
Drug-Related 144

Full list.

Homicides are by far the leading cause of deaths for US tourists (more than vehicle accents combined). 593 of these tourist homicides, almost half, were in Mexico! I was surprised to see suicides placed second on the list. Perhaps this is misrepresentation of reported cause of deaths (suicides do not necessarily reflect badly on the country).

Top 10 Countries by Death Count

country region num_deaths num_warnings num_travellers Probability of death
Mexico Americas 1653 28 71608500 0.00231%
Haiti Americas 221 10 3316700 0.00666%
Thailand Asia 191 4 343500 0.05560%
Costa Rica Americas 184 0 8137400 0.00226%
Philippines Asia 181 20 3240000 0.00559%
Dominican Republic Americas 149 0 18169700 0.00082%
Jamaica Americas 128 0 10606600 0.00121%
Germany Europe 125 0 32703500 0.00038%
China Asia 118 0 14593400 0.00081%
Afghanistan Asia 104 23 #N/A #N/A

Full list.

Mexico is looking pretty dangerous based on the death count, but you should pay close attention to the probability of death being relatively low (0.002%, ranked 23rd by probability of death).

Several countries with relatively high rates of American death have not been issued a single travel warning in ~7 years, including Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Many of the deaths in these countries are the result of natural disasters where very early warnings are hard to issue by any government.

Top 10 Countries by Probability of Death

country region num_deaths num_warnings num_travellers Probability of death
Thailand Asia 191 4 343500 0.05560%
Pakistan Asia 22 25 226200 0.00973%
Greece Europe 54 0 691800 0.00781%
Haiti Americas 221 10 3316700 0.00666%
Egypt Africa 35 11 579800 0.00604%
Philippines Asia 181 20 3240000 0.00559%
Ukraine Europe 13 15 276800 0.00470%
Saudi Arabia Asia 34 16 749100 0.00454%
Belize Americas 68 0 1563400 0.00435%
Nigeria Africa 32 23 780900 0.00410%

Full list.

The probability (US citizens) of dying in most countries is rarely low, with the exception being Thailand. Here US citizens have a 0.06% chance of death, that is 1 in every 43320 travellers is killed, whilst only 4 travel warning were issued. Pakistan, the country ranked 2nd most dangerous according to State Department data (also ranked 3rd by travel warning issued with 25), has a much lower probability of death, just 0.01%.

Change in travel behaviour based on warnings

travelcountries region num warnings travel pct change
Egypt Africa 11 -34.09
Thailand Asia 4 -15.00
Pakistan Asia 25 -3.00
Philippines Asia 20 -2.34
Venezuela Americas 7 -1.41
Honduras Americas 9 -1.18
Israel Asia 25 -0.06
Mexico Americas 28 0.52
Haiti Americas 10 0.53
El Salvador Americas 9 1.76
Russia Europe 6 4.03
Colombia Americas 18 5.97
Bahrain Asia 3 6.55
Nigeria Africa 23 10.99
Ukraine Europe 15 11.37
Saudi Arabia Asia 16 11.98

Full list.

Overall, countries subject to travel warnings do not see notable declines in American visitors in the 6 months after a warning is issued. Egypt saw the biggest decline in US travellers over the 7 year period between 2009 – 2016, a drop of 34%. Sadly this is the result of political unrest and security fears that have resulted in a significant decline in tourism from most countries around the world.


Political tensions between nations are likely to have a significant effect on the travel warnings issued by countries. Being able to compare the travel warnings issued by each government would be a good extension on this initial analysis (who issues most warnings, where are most warnings issues against, etc…).


The probability (US citizens) of dying most countries is rarely low, with the exception of Thailand. In Thailand US visitors have a 0.06% chance of death.


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

The Cities Where Breathing is Worse Than Smoking

On hot summer days in London, UK I regularly walk along some of the most trafficked streets (vehicles). Whilst the pollution is not always visible, I can clearly smell the exhaust fumes of the passing busses and feel it settling on my skin. It does not surprise me reading articles with titles including, “London’s Air is as Bad as Smoking” (credited for the title of this post).

Pollution is arguably the biggest hazard to human health today, especially in our cities (although Donald Trump doesn’t agree). With this concern in my mind, I wanted to uncover some of the worst places for my health to visit.

What is PM 2.5 and PM 10?

Particle pollution, also called particulate matter (PM), is a mixture of solids and liquid droplets floating in the air. Some particles are released directly from a specific source, while others form in complicated chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

    • Coarse dust particles (PM10) are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter. Sources include crushing or grinding operations and dust stirred up by vehicles on roads.
    • Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, and can only be seen with an electron microscope. Fine particles are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes. PM2.5 particles are considered most damaging to health.


The World Health Organisation produce a Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database (data from 2016 update). The primary sources of data for this are official reporting from countries to WHO, official national / subnational reports and national / subnational web sites containing measurements of PM10 or PM2.5 and the relevant national agencies. The dataset covers 2972 cities from 184 countries.


PM2.5 pollution levels by country

PM2_5 Total Country 2014

Interactive map.

Top 10 countries by total PM2.5 pollution level

Country PM2.5 Urban 2014 mean annual Οg/m3 PM2.5 Urban rank 2014 PM2.5 Total Country 2014 mean annual Οg/m3 PM2.5 Total Country Rank 2014
Saudi Arabia 127.1 1 107.7 1
Qatar 104.6 2 103.4 2
Egypt 100.6 3 92.8 3
Bangladesh 88.8 4 83.5 4
Kuwait 78.4 7 74.5 5
Cameroon 63.6 12 65.2 6
Mauritania 86.2 5 64.8 7
Nepal 74.3 8 64 8
United Arab Emirates 64.4 11 63.6 9
India 65.7 10 62.4 10

Full table.

Saudi Arabia has levels of PM2.5 pollution in urban areas almost 30% higher than the next most polluted urban areas in Qatar.

For reference, the World Health Organisation recommends 10 Οg/m3 (mean annual) as a guideline safe level.

Only 19 of the 179 countries (that reported PM2.5 figures) have equal to or less than the recommended 10 Οg/m3 (mean annual) level in urban areas. 20 of the 184 reported countries have total pollution less than this recommendation.

The lowest levels of pollution are found in the Soloman Islands with urban and total PM2.5 levels equal to 5Îźg/m3. Notably, larger countries including the United States have urban (8.4Îźg/m3) and total (8.2Îźg/m3) PM2.5 levels below 10Îźg/m3.

PM2.5 pollution levels by city (best and worst)

Rank Country City/Town Annual mean, ug/m3
1 Iran (Islamic Republic of) Zabol 217
2 India Gwalior 176
3 India Allahabad 170
4 Saudi Arabia Riyadh 156
5 Saudi Arabia Al Jubail 152
6 India Patna 149
7 India Raipur 144
8 Cameroon Bamenda 132
9 China Xingtai 128
10 China Baoding 126
2963 United States of America Not in a City,McKenzie,ND 3.20
2964 Canada AUCLAIR 3.00
2964 Canada NORMAN WELLS 3.00
2966 New Zealand Te Anau 2.73
2967 United States of America Not in a City,Custer,SD 2.40
2968 United States of America Not in a City,Converse,WY 2.30
2969 Sweden KIRUNA 2.27
2970 Finland Muonio 2.21
2971 United States of America Wenden, AZ 2.00
2972 United States of America Sinclair,Carbon,WY 1.60

Full list.

Zabol, Iran is the worst polluted city according to the World Health Organisations Air Pollution database by some margin (217 ug/m3 annual mean, 2000% above WHO safe recommended levels!).

4 of the top 10 most polluted cities are in India. 32 of all 2972 cities considered have PM2.5 pollution levels above 10Οg/m3 mean annual.

At the other end of the spectrum, many of the least polluted areas are not cities, unsurprisingly. 5 of the least polluted 10 areas are all in the US and all have PM2.5 levels way below the 10Οg/m3 WHO recommendation.

856 cities considered (of 1972 total) all have less than or equal to 10Οg/m3 mean annual PM2.5 pollution.


From my brief research it would appear there is some disparity in the way pollution levels are reported. Whilst this analysis provides a good overview to the problem of pollution, it could be worth comparing such analysis to the way data is reported (sensor distributions in countries, etc).

Looking at pollution as a problem, it would also be valuable to compare levels of pollution against population numbers to understand how wide the impact is.


Areas of the Middle East are some of the worst polluted on earth, and most dangerous to your health.

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  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

British Airways’ IT Failure Cost the Airline €17,246 a Minute

Well, what a weekend it has been for British Airways.

Thankfully I wasn’t travelling out of Heathrow, my local airport, due to the long weekend here in the UK. However I do know of many friends who’ve had their holidays ruined by the “IT failure” that led to the mass cancellation of flights on Saturday and Sunday by British Airways.

The airline has been going through heavy cost-cutting over recent years. I’m almost certain the events this weekend have wiped out any savings they’ve made. Their share price has dropped by ÂŁ175mm alone. Though how much might this fiasco directly cost the airline?


Airhelp, a company that helps travellers claim compensation for flight delays and cancellations, put together a dataset detailing British Airways flights and estimated passenger numbers for scheduled departures this weekend (27/05/2017 – 28/05/2017) from airports around the world.

In this dataset they split out delayed flights and those that were cancelled. If you booked a flight that departed from Europe or was with a European airline, you  have rights under EU law if your flight is delayed or cancelled. The amount that can be claimed is determined by length of delay, length of flight and wether the flight was cancelled completely.

Using this data it was possible to estimate British Airways’ potential liability for passenger compensation for Saturday (27/05/2017) and Sunday (28/05/2017).

All figure are quoted in Euro’s (EUR).


Worst affected airports (by passengers delayed / cancelled)

Tot affected pax rank Airport Tot delayed pax Tot cancelled pax Tot affected pax
1 LHR 2829 46303 49132
2 LGW 444 4392 4836
3 AMS 284 1153 1437
4 EDI 222 1210 1432
5 JFK 0 1404 1404
6 GLA 243 1072 1315
7 NCE 57 1210 1267
8 GVA 358 847 1205
9 FCO 162 1020 1182
10 DUB 201 910 1111

Full list.

Passengers at LHR (Heathrow), British Airways’ UK hub, saw the worst of the problems. In total 49,132 passengers suffered, 46,303 of them has their flights cancelled.

LGW (Gatwick) was the second worst affected airport for cancelled and delayed flights. 4,836 passengers were affected in total, a much lower number than at Heathrow.

Worst affected airports (by estimated compensation liability)

tot compensation rank Airport 2705 tot compensation (eur) 2805 tot compensation (eur) tot compensation (eur) tot pax
1 LHR 16,819,509 4,414,834 21,234,343 49132
2 LGW 2,067,489 32,324 2,099,813 4836
3 JFK 891,252 891,252 1404
4 DXB 515,516 515,516 668
5 HKG 477,353 477,353 619
6 SFO 435,586 435,586 686
7 EDI 160,470 265,370 425,840 1432
8 AMS 171,197 253,900 425,097 1437
9 GLA 149,743 240,866 390,609 1315
10 GVA 180,207 168,398 348,605 1205

Full list.

Unsurprisingly Heathrow tops the list with a potential liability of €21,234,342.77. This equates to €7373 per minute in compensation (21mm / 2880 min)! Ouch.

Remember, one variable that affects the amount of compensation you can claim is the distance of a flight. As BA tend to fly in/out of the UK, passengers flying from/to airports further away from the UK can typically claim more. This is why flights departing from airports like Hong Kong have high total compensation liabilities (€477,352.64) in comparison to passenger numbers (619).

Overall, the average compensation liability per airport was €245,448.

Worst affected countries (by estimated compensation liability)

Liability rank Country eligible flights eligible seats eligible pax liability (EUR)
1 GB 754 135500 109890 43,490,141
2 US 66 19767 16031 9,618,622
3 FR 78 11322 9182 2,414,753
4 ES 62 9845 7984 2,208,475
5 IT 66 9980 8094 2,187,186
6 DE 59 7876 6387 1,596,859
7 CA 10 2994 2428 1,457,019
8 IN 11 2808 2277 1,366,148
9 GR 24 3840 3114 1,245,696
10 AE 8 2182 1770 1,061,956

Full list.

As British Airways operates out of the UK, it is unsurprising to see compensation liabilities and passengers affected to be highest from British airports. Passengers flying British Airways from the US were the second worst affected (16k passengers / € 9.6mm compensation liability). There were significantly more affected BA passengers from the US than other countries (excluding the UK).

Average claim amounts

Average claim amount by airport histogram

Download chart.

There is a fairly even spread of maximum compensation passengers are eligible to claim.

Typically airports a long distance from the UK – for example DXV, PVG, HKG – have the highest average amount passengers can claim in compensation (€771.43) as discussed above.

European airports typically have the lowest amount passengers can claim in compensation (€264.53) due to their distance from the UK (or total flight time).

Total liability

tot affected flights tot seats tot pax tot compensation (eur)
Sat 27/5 515 95607 77537 € 34,193,780.20
Sun 28/5 243 43273 35094 € 15,476,631.72
Total 758 138880 112631 € 49,670,411.92

Full table.

In total it is estimated British Airways “IT failure” affected 758 worldwide flights with 112,631 passengers due to fly on them.

Based on EU compensation rules, BA is potentially liable to pay €49,670,411.92 in passenger compensation for the two days of delays and cancellations this weekend. Or €17,246 a minute (49.5mm / 2880 min)!


BA is potentially liable to pay €49,670,411.92 in passenger compensation for the two days of delays and cancellations this weekend.


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.