Are you tracking your shipment with Fedex, but see a message on tracking stating there is an operational delay?

This message is very rare to see, which can also make it confusing to interpret. Thankfully, there’s usually a simple explanation behind it.

So, what does operational delay actually mean, and how long will it delay the receipt of your package?

In this article, I’ll be covering everything that you need to know!

What Does It Mean When Fedex Tracking States ‘Operational Delay?’

Fedex Delivery Vehicle

If Fedex tracking states ‘operational delay’, this means that there is something causing a delay preventing Fedex from moving forward with the shipment at this very moment.

For example, it’s possible that the truck that your package was on has broken down, weather is preventing a plane from taking off, or staffing shortages are causing Fedex sorting facilities to lag behind, failing to keep up with the volume of packages they need to sort.

While some of these are issues with Fedex, others are factors that are beyond their control.

However, the operational delay message does show that the delay was caused by an issue while the package was in transit, rather than an issue with the shipper, or issues with delivery.

What Causes Operational Delays With Fedex?

Because moving a package across the country (and in some cases, the entire world) is such a large endeavor, there is unfortunately a lot that can go wrong.

Additionally, your Fedex package will make a large number of stops on its journey towards your door, meaning that issues at any step in the process can unfortunately cause delays.

So, what causes the ‘operational delay’ message specifically? Let’s look over a list of potential reasons:

  • Mechanical issues with Fedex sorting equipment.
  • Broken down Fedex trucks.
  • Staffing shortages or worker strikes.
  • Packages being sent to the wrong sorting facility.
  • Packages failing to make it on the correct vehicle.
  • Airport closures.
  • Severe weather (though weather-related issues will typically be stated, if this is the cause.)
  • Packages being set aside (for example, to fix the barcode, x-ray them, etc.) but weren’t put back in time.
  • Shipments in which a Fedex-caused error prevented them from clearing customs in a timely manner.

Generally speaking, ‘operational delay’ is used when the error is not caused by the shipper or recipient, and there is no other message to use that is more specific.

In other words, Fedex is taking the blame for the delay, and making you aware of it in advance.

How Long Will The Package Be Delayed?

Now that we know what causes ‘Operational Delay’ to appear on your Fedex tracking page, the next question is how long it will last!

Unfortunately, due to the vague and varied causes of this message, it’s hard to know for sure.

However, most operational delays end up adding no more than a couple days worth of additional transit time.

Fedex has an extreme amount of data about their facilities and the shipments they handle, and can make adjustments in real time to account for things like upcoming weather storms, airport closures, and even facilities that are unable to operate at their full capacity.

While some operational delays only add an extra day to the package’s transit time, more severe issues can last longer. Fedex Ground shipments are particularly prone to longer delay times, with some people stating they’ve experienced delays as long as 10 days!

You may be able to find out more information by looking at your package’s tracking history, and finding the facility listed most recently. Then, Googling it (for example, ‘Fedex Shanghai China’) to see if there is any recent news about it.

However, since ‘operational delay’ is used when Fedex doesn’t have a more specific message to place, it can be very difficult to know the exact cause of the message – making it hard to estimate any delays.

If your Fedex tracking page is still showing an estimated delivery date (rather than updating to something like ‘Pending’), than use your estimated delivery date to gauge when your package arrives.

Fedex’s algorithm to determine the estimated delivery date is extremely advanced, and can ta1ke operational delays and unique situations like this into account, while still maintaining great accuracy.

Does ‘Operational Delay’ Mean That My Package Is Lost?

No, thankfully seeing the operational delay message does not mean that your package has been lost!

While misplacements of packages can cause the operational delay package to appear, Fedex will usually display a different message if they believe the package is actually lost.

That being said, you should continue to check your tracking page regularly for any updates, that may give further insights into your package’s status.

However, until you have reason to believe otherwise, you can be fairly confident your package isn’t completely lost, and will be delivered eventually.

Will You Be Reimbursed For Late Deliveries?

Finally, let’s cover one more important question. If Fedex packages are delayed and arrive to you late, are you entitled to any reimbursements or compensation?

Yes, but only if:

  1. You are the person who purchased shipping for the package.
  2. You shipped the package using a Fedex service that offers a delivery guarantee.

You can learn more about Fedex’s money back guarantee by clicking here.

If you are the person receiving the package and not the person who shipped it, don’t worry!

In these instances, you should contact the merchant that shipped you the package, and ask if they can offer any sort of compensation themselves.

They may be able to receive a refund from Fedex, and then pass the savings onto you.

Amazon for example is known for offering refunds on expedited shipping fees, or credits towards future purchases if packages arrive late.

So, it’s certainly worth trying!


When Fedex tracking shows a message stating there is an operational delay, this means that there was a delay caused by Fedex themselves.

Typically, this message is used when there is no other code in their system to describe the cause of delay. While most delays are less than 2 days long, delays can last for longer than a week in some circumstances.

I hope that this article has answered your questions, and you’ll manage to get your package delivered to you soon.

If you have any other questions about Fedex, please ask them below and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

Wishing you the best,

– James McAllister

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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