Skip to main content

Brace yourself: Transatlantic flights set to be bumpier, costlier

By Qin Xie and Chuck Thompson, CNN
updated 9:34 PM EDT, Tue April 9, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Report says passengers should brace themselves for bumpier skies and costlier flights
  • It says climate change will increase turbulence over the North Atlantic, a popular route
  • The report is based on a climate model simulations, impact of changes in carbon dioxide levels

(CNN) -- Among all the woes of modern air travel -- cramped seating, extra charges for baggage, outrageous prices for airport food -- perhaps nothing frays the nerves of passengers faster than air turbulence.

Well, brace yourself for even bumpier skies. And costlier flights.

A pair of British scientists are predicting that the white-knuckle rocking and rolling at 35,000 feet is going to get worse.

Global warming may make flights bumpier

According to a paper published in the scientific journal, Nature, climate change will significantly increase turbulence over the North Atlantic, a popular route between North America and Europe.

If you weigh more, should you pay more?

The report concludes that "journey times may lengthen and fuel consumption and emissions may increase" as a result.

Airbus CEO: Outsourcing brings risks

READ MORE: CNN Business Traveller

Tracking the A380 night convoy

This means additional costs to airlines and, ultimately, passengers.

Currently, turbulence causes about $150 million a year in damages to planes and other expenses, said Paul Williams, one of the report's authors from the department of meteorology at the University of Reading. There's a high chance overall industry costs will rise as turbulence intensifies, he said.

The report is based on a study of climate model simulations that suggest changes in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will dramatically increase the jarring rattle, shake, shimmy and sudden drops known all too well to frequent fliers.

READ MORE: What women want on the road

"We only looked at winter, as this is when the jet stream is strongest, but we will look at other seasons in the future," said co-author Maoj Joshi, a lecturer in climate dynamics from the University of East Anglia.

Study results show that the area above the North Atlantic that will experience "significant" turbulence will double, explained Williams. "Significant" turbulence can be classified as turbulence that would prompt a pilot to turn on the seat belt sign, he said.

Joshi told CNN he expects to find similar results when the team looks at the North Pacific region, between Japan and the West Coast of the United States.

So, in addition to everything else, expect to hear that "keep your seat belt fastened" reprimand a little more often as you fly the shaky skies.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:25 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Based on the votes of over 330 industry experts, the 2014 winners include bars from 27 cities in 14 countries.
updated 6:31 PM EDT, Sun October 12, 2014
Careening down an active volcano at 95 kph on a thin board? It happens only at Cerro Negro in Nicaragua.
updated 9:37 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
Tips and techniques for those who want to turn their vacation into a rewarding family history lesson.
updated 3:53 PM EDT, Thu October 9, 2014
From savory power snacks to beloved Indian ice cream, here's how to do Delhi street food right.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Wed October 8, 2014
La Chaux de Fonds, Avenue Léopold Robert. Neuchâtel: Phototypie Co., Postmark 16.6.1919
Long before our traveling friends had Facebook and Instagram to taunt us, they had postcards.
updated 2:25 AM EDT, Wed October 8, 2014
After slurping down noodles in 1,000 stores, the "ramen guy" untangles the complex flavors of Japan's diverse dish
updated 12:55 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
A visitor lies down to take a selfie on the new glass floor at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Mayor of Paris says 125-year-old landmark's new attraction will prove to critics the city still has some magic.
updated 10:44 PM EDT, Thu October 9, 2014
These days, some of the best running trails can be found in the world's busiest places.
updated 2:25 AM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
A 1939 Bugatti 57C in the Cite de l'Automobile in Mulhouse France.
Midlife crisis males have nothing on Bugatti-obsessed brothers behind vast sports car collection.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
When it comes to air travel, courtesy and common sense are often the first two things to fly out the departure gates.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT