Climate Change Is Real & It's Going To Make Air Travel Even Worse

Photo: Xinhua/Wang Ying/Getty Images.
Let us say it again: Climate change is real. Rising temperatures and other environmental shifts are endangering our health, our earth, and now, even our travel plans. The Washington Post recently reported that extreme heat due to climate change is likely to cause flight delays, cancellations, and those now-ubiquitous (and awful) passenger removals.
Last month, temperatures hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix, AZ and caused American Airlines to cancel 57 flights in three days. “High elevation and high temperature mean less molecules of air for the plane to push off of,” climate scientist Radley Horton told the Post. In short, hot days necessitate increased weight restrictions which meant cutting back on fuel, cargo, and/or passengers in order for the plane to get off the ground. The Post adds that this is why particularly long flights are often scheduled for overnight, when it's cooler.
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A 2015 study from Columbia University, "Climate Change and the Impact of Extreme Temperatures on Aviation," predicted that we'll see four times as many weight restrictions at at-risk airports in the U.S. by 2050. (These "at-risk" airports include those in particularly hot areas, as well as those with short runways such as D.C.'s Reagan and NYC's LaGuardia).
“We can say with high confidence,” Horton added, “that the type of heat events that lead to weight limits are going to increase in the future.” Meteorology professor Paul Williams agreed, telling the Post that "in the future, we’ll see more planes unable to take off." So there you have it — and we recommend you start making your travel plans accordingly.
In case that wasn't bad enough, winds caused by climate change are making the jet stream stronger, which will cause transatlantic flights to take longer. So, once you've waited around for that delayed flight for half a day, you can expect the trip itself to drag on, too. Ugh. Time to amp up your travel-snack collection — and seriously amp up our fight against climate change. Here's how.
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