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Turbulence when traveling to London

Okay, I'm a big chicken when it comes to flying. I will be flying from Atlanta, Georgia, USA to London, England at the end of March. I know everything is dependant on the weather, but are flights typically very turbulent when flying that route?

9 Answers

answered by
Janelle from Charleston

I fly between South Carolina and Manchester (usually thru Atlanta or Newark) at least twice a year, and I'm still alive to answer this question.  Turbulence isn't easy to predict, but the general indicator is that if there's a storm or mountains in the area there will be more turbulence.  There are no mountains in the ocean, and the North Atlantic doesn't get many violent thunderstorms, especially not in March, so you should be OK save for a few minor to moderate bumps here and there.  Most pilots, however, will know in advance where the bumpy areas are and steer clear to avoid them as best they can. 

Airplanes are built to withstand turbulence many times stronger than the worst turbulence you encounter in real life conditions, and fatal crashes caused by severe turbulence are unheard of.  Every once in a while heavy turbulence will cause a few injuries, but they're either to the flight attendants who are moving about the cabin or to stupid passengers who don't sit down and fasten their seat belts when the captain tells them to.  Think of air turbulence like a bumpy road with potholes...if you drive carefully you won't damage your car or get in a wreck.

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top answer by
Paula from Tampa

I've flown this route often. I've never experienced anymore than light turbulence over the sea. I wouldn't be worried about it anymore than I am on regular flights.

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answered by
Fyka from London

I've flown from the United States to London before and flight was fine. Majority of flights back to UK are usually okay. Although, as you said it does depend on weather but so far the weather here has been okay, a little windy but no major winds and some drizzle.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. United States (attraction)
  2. London (city)
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answered by
Sasha from New York City

Check a day before and day of. It will show you where you can expect bumps so you can be prepared. I hate turbulence but have flown to Europe many times and have only had one bad flight (which I survived !). In general, it's a little bumpy at the edges of the continents, but not bad.

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answered first by
Steve from Auckland

Not especially.  I've flown trans-Atlantic many many times and can't say I've ever encountered much turbulence.  It's certainly not renowned for it, but as you say, weather plays a big role.

Either way, it's not something you can prepare for or avoid, so kick back and enjoy the ride!

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answered by
joel from Manchester (Connecticut)

There is really no need to worry. Turbulence in an airplane is caused by a disruption of laminar air flow typically due to air pressure changes. And yes a storm can be the cause.  

Airplanes are designed to withstand positive and negative g forces far greater than any turbulence you will experience. An airplane is not a boat bobbing in the ocean. It behaves entirely different. It will not flip, get swamped or capsize due to turbulence. In fact the airplane as it gets knocked around will in fact try to get itself back to where it was quickly.  

A pilot us given advanced notice if bumpy air from traffic control, based on previous flights thru tge air. Typically a change in altitude can alleviate the bumps but not always. 

I fly to Europe bi monthly, sometime smooth as glass sometimes pretty rough.  

Just keep in mind the pilots are not worried and view turbulence as an inconvenience for you. It is customer service to try to find smoother air. 

Go! Enjoy all tgat Europe has to offer, flying is safer than driving your car, and have fun. 

It's a big beautiful world!

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answered by
Paul from Dublin

I used to be a nervous flyer but the more I've flown the more comfortable I've become. I've flown back and forwards over the Atlantic for over 30 years and have never experienced bad turbulence. Occasional mild turbulence can happen but it will usually only last for a while. These days planes fly much higher and are less prone to turbulence. Also, the airlines and flight controllers often know where turbulence is before the flight leaves and will adjust their flight plan accordingly. I certainly wouldn't let nervousness stop you from visiting Europe. You will miss out on so much if you do.

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answered by
Sean from Hudson Valley

Hello Angie,

In my experience trans-Atlantic flights are usually rather calm.  In fact, the most turbulent flights I've encountered have always been over the mid-western portion of the United States.  By comparison most flight to London are eerily calm.

As previously mentioned, you can look-up turbulence reports on-line prior to your flight.  However, you need to ask yourself if this is a good idea.  Suppose see a report that predicts a good amount of turbulence.  Will this knowledge help you prepare in dealing with it, or will the knowledge fester inside you bringing you to a near panic state.  Only you can answer this about yourself.  Just be honest with yourself, and act accordingly. 

The way you prepare for your flight may help you immensely.  I usually try to fly to Europe on a flight scheduled to arrive in the morning.  If you are doing the same, allow me to make the following recommendations.

  • As you taxi from the gate in preparation for takeoff, reset your watch, and your mind, to the time of your destination.  No it's not early evening; it's past midnight. 
  • Loosen you shoes.
  • Put in earplugs, or put on your noise canceling headphones.
  • Throw a blanket over you, or put on a comfy jacket.
  • Place either a dark pair of sunglasses or a sleep mask over your eyes.
  • Now recline your seat (slightly) and try to relax.  Don't try to sleep; just try to relax.  You'll be surprised how quickly sleep can come when you're not actively pursuing it.

If you manage to sleep during your flight, you probably won't notice any turbulence should you encounter it.  In addition, arriving at your destination rested, with your mind adjusted to the local time, is the best wa to beat down jetlag.

Happy travels!


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answered by
mona from Fayetteville

I've made the trip many times and can only remember one time 25 yrs ago when the turbulence was bad. Typically when you get to 35,000 ft in the air it is very calm.

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