This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Update: Accordng to Allegiant Air, the flight through the hurricane area happened at a perfectly safe altitude. “In the case of flight 2237, the dispatcher and flight crew were not only looking at the height of the storm, which was returning tops of around 20,000 – 25,000ft, but also utilizing a cutting edge turbulence forecasting product,” the airline said in an email to TPG. “The flight was at 34,000ft with more than 10,000ft of clearance from the tops of the thunderstorms. Crew reported an entirely smooth, turbulence-free flight.” This story has been edited to reflect that.
Delta made international headlines last year for its well-planned and perfectly executed flight into San Juan, Puerto Rico, between the rain bands of Hurricane Irma.
Maybe Allegiant wanted the same sort of acclaim. Or, maybe it figured it could save some fuel by riding solid tailwinds from the hurricane on a flight from Bangor, Maine (BGR) to Orlando’s Sanford (SFB) airport.
For whatever reason, the ultra low-cost carrier decided to fly directly above Hurricane Florence while all other commercial flights flew around the storm. Here’s just how wide of a berth other flights gave Hurricane Florence compared to the Allegiant flight:
According to flight data, the 29-year old McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (registration N415NV) flew above Hurricane Florence at 34,000 feet and at a ground speed of up to 580mph. The flight arrived 30 minutes early — despite departing 12 minutes late.
That’s much, much faster than hurricane hunters would dare fly through the core of a hurricane. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal this week, veteran pilot Ben Blair explained why hurricane hunter pilots only fly at 200mph: “If you get too fast going through that kind of severe turbulence, it can bend things on the aircraft.”
That said, hurricane hunters usually only fly into and around hurricanes at 10,000 feet, far lower than the Allegiant flight did. So, to get an understanding of just how rough of a ride this would’ve been, I reached out to the National Weather Service. While they couldn’t speak to the weather conditions that this particular flight might have experienced, a spokesperson confirmed that the hurricane’s cirrus cloud shield ranged from 40,000 to 45,000 feet at the time the flight passed through the area.
It’s possible that the flight may have just skirted the outside of the core cloud wall — and in fact the crew, Allegiant says, reported a smooth flight. Even so, there’s another issue with flying so close to the storm: many airports in the area had closed due to the hurricane — limiting diversion options in case something went wrong.
H/T: Live Storm Chasers
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees