After a long and cold winter, the busy summer travel season is finally here! That means more time with family and friends, exciting trips and fun in the sun. However, sometimes this hot weather can literally create the perfect storm, unfortunately causing travel delays.
During the summer months, hot air rises and interacts with cooler air in the upper atmosphere, causing water vapor to condense and form storm clouds. Summer thunderstorms can feature lightning, high winds and heavy rain—conditions that could inhibit safe flying and endanger those working on the ground to ready your flight. While usually short in duration, summer thunderstorms can strike at any time and delays can happen at a moment’s notice.
Usually, airlines can avoid delays by working with air traffic control to route flights around thunderstorms. However, it is unsafe for ground workers at airports to operate in thunderstorm conditions. Downbursts and wind shear produced by thunderstorms also pose a threat to the safety of aircraft during landing and takeoff operations. In times when conditions are unsafe for flight operations at an airport, delays are a necessary precaution taken to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew. In most cases, flights can begin once the storm moves out.
So, how can you best prepare for travel during the summer thunderstorm season? Here are a few simple tips to ensure the smoothest air travel experience possible this summer:
- Monitor the status of your flight and be aware of changing weather conditions at the origin and destination of your travel itinerary. Weather conditions can vary from city to city. It is also important to note that your aircraft may be flying in from another area experiencing bad weather, even if it’s clear skies at your origin and destination.
- It is also helpful to try to fly in the morning, which can minimize the likelihood of getting caught in a thunderstorm, as storms tend to develop during the hotter afternoon hours.
- In the rare case of heavy delays or even cancellations, our member airlines have policies in place to ensure that your travel plans are accommodated as quickly and safely as possible.
Frequent thunderstorms during the summer months can prove challenging for airlines and travelers. Thankfully, airlines have finely-tuned procedures in place to deal with the various issues summer thunderstorms pose, ensuring that you will arrive safely to your summer travel destination, wherever it may be!