Heat Delays? How Rising Temperatures Are Changing Flight Patterns

Most of us schedule a plane ride based on when it arrives at the destination. We either have an important business meeting to get to or want to take advantage of our first day of vacation.

This is why flight delays can be incredibly frustrating. Most of the time, these are due to severe weather conditions like hurricanes, snowstorms, and thunderstorms. However, a culprit for delayed flights that is usually ignored is intense heat.

Heat waves create severe challenges for pilots. They have caused hundreds of cancellations and changes in flight patterns, especially in states like Arizona that become sweltering hot during the summer season.

Follow along to figure out why a hot sunny day might actually ruin your travel plans.

flight patterns

Why Does This Happen?

You might have been checking the weather radar or a flight tracker right before heading to the airport to make sure a storm wasn’t brewing somewhere along your flight path. What you might not have thought about is that the blistering sun might sabotage your trip.

It has reduced the density of air by heating up its molecules. Hot air is not very conducive to flying. Since it’s less dense, it provides less lift, which is necessary for planes to take off.

To combat this issue, the plane has to weigh less. Cargo needs to be taken off the plane, and in some cases, the number of passengers who can board the aircraft is limited. This can lead to higher ticket prices during the summer.

Flight Patterns

With several heat records being broken all across the world, cancellations due to heat waves will become so much more common. This could heavily impact flight patterns during the summer.

Jet Stream

Flight routes are influenced by jet stream patterns. With more hot air rising in the summer months, the jet stream can experience some turbulent air. This will not only cause bumpier rides but will also affect travel times.

Flights may need to be rerouted if the air is too turbulent to fly in. This will cause a rescheduling of thousands of flights since each one’s path is specifically calculated.

Time of Day

Others may need to be postponed for cooler times, which will make it difficult for airports to pack a day’s worth of flights into a few cool hours of the night. A great tip is to schedule summer flights for departure after six or seven in the evening. They are less likely to get canceled!

If airlines plan ahead of time and reduce the number of flights they operate per day during the summer, it might be incredibly hard to get your hands on an inexpensive ticket.

Airlines would only have one – maybe two – flights to every destination they normally fly to per day. Compared to an average of four or five, this could severely affect frequent flyers.

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