British Airways flies record-breaking sub-5-hour flight from New York to London
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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with additional information. It was originally published on February 7, 2020.
On Friday we told you about the 200-mile-per-hour jet stream over the Atlantic Ocean that was set to propel a strong storm toward Ireland and the United Kingdom over the weekend, according to Weather.com. The system, named Storm Ciara, bought strong winds — up to 80 mph — and rain to the region late Saturday night into Sunday. It will make its way to other parts of Europe on Monday. Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as the northern regions of France, Germany and Denmark, could be hit the hardest.
But the storm was actually a boon for travelers headed from the U.S. east coast to the U.K. The jet stream helped push aircraft to some of the fastest speeds we’ve seen.
In fact, British Airways’ flight 112 from New York-JFK to London-LHR on Saturday, February 8, achieved the fastest subsonic flight duration ever. The route clocked in at just 4 hours and 56 minutes according to the data collected by FlightRadar24. The average flight time for that route is usually 6 hours and 13 minutes. During the flight, the Boeing 747-436 aircraft reached speeds of 800 mph.
The wind also shaved 51 minutes off the average flight time of BA238 on February 8, a Boeing 777-236ER flying from Boston to LHR with onward service to Dublin.
If we’re not mistaken, BA now retakes the fastest subsonic NY-London crossing from Norwegian. pic.twitter.com/Sr1GPeAjuh
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) February 9, 2020
The World Meteorology Organization defines a jet stream as, “A strong, narrow current … characterized by strong vertical and lateral wind shears ….” Jet streams flow from west to east, which is why flights from Europe to North America take longer than those heading in the opposite direction. Pilots can take advantage of jet streams by flying as close to the center of the stream as possible.
Remember that Virgin Atlantic flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) that flew over 800 mph back in 2019? Thank the jet stream for that.
This weekend, pilots took advantage of a similar phenomenon. Here’s what happens: Most commercial aircraft fly at jet stream level. Most planes fly approximately 550 mph (without wind), so the jet stream helps eastbound flights fly faster — occasionally shaving an hour off your flight. This time around, though, the rare 200 mph tail wind will speed them up even more so.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
No such luck for travelers flying in the opposite direction, though. Those flights fought headwinds and were up to two and a half-hours longer than normal.
Featured photo by fanjianhua/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,040
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
- $250 Annual Fee
- Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
- Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
- Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
- Earn 2X miles on all other travel
- Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
- Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.