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Now is the worst time to fly to the US from Europe

By Zainab Mudallal
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Not only is the exchange rate terrible for Europeans traveling to the US, now it’s taking them significantly longer to fly there, too.

Thank the North Atlantic jet stream. It’s responsible for the frigid polar vortex temperatures in North America, and raging storms over the UK. The powerhouse jet stream, roaring at over 200 miles per hour, has meant some serious headwinds for many planes flying east to west.

For American Airlines flight 121 from Paris to New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, it meant it even had to schedule a fuel stop in Maine after flying over Greenland to avoid the rough winds. It took over 8 hours just to get to Maine, when the average flight duration from Paris to New York is roughly 7 hours and 45 minutes.

Flight Aware

While only a few flights had to schedule a fuel stop, many flights are taking much longer to get to their destination in North America. Virgin Atlantic flight 25 and United flight 115, for example, both took over 8 hours to make the journey from Heathrow to JFK (vs. an average 7 hours and 15 minutes) because of the strong winds and a visibly longer route over Greenland, compared to the reverse route.

Flight Aware
Flight Aware

The jet stream typically reaches its peak intensity during the winter months, when the temperatures between the equator and the North Pole are the most varied.

On the flip side, it has also meant that flights on the opposite routes, from the US to Europe, are getting there much faster. Travelers on the New York to London route are making it in about 5 hours and 20 minutes, rather than the more typical six hours plus, according to data from Flight Aware.

Mashable reported yesterday that for British Airways Flight 114 going from New York to London, the jet stream helped the plane reach “near-supersonic” speeds.

Flight Aware

And British Airways Flight 1515 departed roughly 40 minutes late from New York but still arrived in London 16 minutes earlier than scheduled.

So for any Americans itching to travel across the Atlantic, but who can’t stomach the long, crammed flight, now might be the right time to make the journey.

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