Sometimes in looking out the window at a beautiful, clear blue sky, it is difficult to understand why our flight is delayed “due to weather.” As passengers, we are usually focused on our final destination – a reunion, business meeting, wedding or other special event – and don’t always think about the many ways in which our travel plans can be affected.
There are times when the skies might be clear in both your departure and destination cities, but inclement weather along the route could interfere with the flight, or your aircraft may be coming from a city experiencing weather delays, which can cause a ripple effect. Often we only think weather-related disruptions take place during winter with freezing precipitation, but summer has its fair share of storms and convective activity, which can come up with little notice. This mixing of warm and cool air can cause heavy rains, flash floods, strong winds, hail and tornadoes.
Delays and cancellations are an inconvenience for passengers and employees, and cost the economy more than $30 billion each year. So airlines are looking toward new technologies like Water Vapor Sensing Systems that help predict weather events and avoid turbulence by providing real-time data. Additionally, airlines have invested hundreds of millions in NextGen, a 21st century satellite-based system, which would enhance air travel by reducing flight delays and cancellations, allowing planes to fly more direct routes.
There are times though when it is simply not safe to fly and airlines often will cancel flights in advance of significant weather events, so they can recover and return operations to normal more quickly when the storm passes. In the event there is a change, airlines make every effort to get passengers to their destination as efficiently and safely as possible.
To be prepared as a traveler, visit airlines.org/weather to check current weather and for links to airline travel advisories and mobile apps, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how the industry manages weather events.