Expect Delays Today As Airlines Are Being Routed Up to a Thousand Miles Off Course

May 23, 2019

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.

Coast-to-coast flights in the US typically take a fairly predictable route across the country. After all, as we learned in school, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And shorter routes typically mean faster flights and less fuel burn than going a roundabout way. However, wind and weather can sometimes force flights to take very different routes from day to day.

One of the most drastic examples of this is on the world’s longest flight between Newark and Singapore. Some days that flight flies the most direct route over the North Pole, sometimes it flies over central Europe and sometimes south of Japan.

Courtesy of Flightradar24.com

That’s a fairly extreme example. For flights between the US coasts, flight paths will vary a bit depending on the jet stream, but generally stay relatively the same. That’s why it was newsworthy in mid-April when coast-to-coast flights were flying over Florida, up to a thousand miles south of where those flights typically go.

And today, it’s happening again. The same Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control elements are in place again Thursday. As with last time, this is because of a line of severe convection acting as a blocker for coast-to-coast flights:

These two air traffic control advisories (FCAA08 and FCAOB1) are forcing airlines to take a very southerly route when flying coast-to-coast this afternoon.

The clearest example of just how far off the normal route airlines are flying can be seen in the United flights currently flying between Los Angeles and Newark. United flight 2041 was able to take a fairly normal transcontinental route, but later flights are routing across the heart of Texas to just north of New Orleans before heading north:

Courtesy of Flightradar24.com

But it’s not just United that’s having to route south. As of 2pm ET on Thursday, all transcontinental flights currently flying from the California to the Northeast are routing along this extraordinarily southerly route:

Courtesy of Flightradar24.com

Although this southerly route just went into effect this afternoon, weather is already causing some serious delays to US flights. As of 2:30pm ET Thursday, FlightAware has tracked over 3,400 US flight delays and more than 520 flight cancellations. And it’s not getting better anytime soon.

Based on the weather-related air traffic controls in place, the Air Traffic Control System Command Center forecasts the following average delays through late Thursday:

  • New York Kennedy (JFK): 166 minutes
  • Newark (EWR): 136 minutes
  • New York LaGuardia (LGA): 51 minutes

The air traffic control elements that are causing this southerly route are predicted to cause an average delay of 69 minutes.

Related: The Best Credit Cards With Travel Protections

As weather is to blame for any delays caused by this routing, airlines likely aren’t going to cover lodging, ground transportation and meal expenses in the case of extended delays.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.