Breakdown: Why it’s faster to fly east than west

Breakdown: Why it’s faster to fly east than west

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - If you plan on leaving on a jet plane this holiday season, you might be surprised to learn that traveling east is faster than traveling west.

The main reason for the difference in travel time is due to the jet stream. The jet stream is high altitude wind that blows from the west to the east across the globe. Airplanes fly into the jet stream at 30,000 feet and then travel with these winds. You can watch a Breakdown about the jet stream here.

Since the jet stream winds go from west to east, airplanes flying eastward can take advantage of the fast moving winds and hitch a ride on this atmospheric river. However, a plane flying to the west would be going against the winds.

For example, when flying from New York to London, you are flying in the Westerlies or mid-latitudes. This will give you a tail wind, which will cause the flight path to only take around 5 to 6 hours. Whereas, if you are flying from London to New York, you will still fly in the westerlies or mid-latitudes, but you will have a head wind. This will cause your flight to take around 7 to 8 hours.

Next time you fly, pay attention to the duration of the flight and you will notice a shorter time for an eastbound flight versus a westbound flight.

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