Turbulence or no turbulence?
Photo by Inactive. on Unsplash

On Saturday, my wife, son and I flew from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 300. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 8pm. We pushed back from the gate at 8:19pm and took off at 8:29pm. We landed at LAX at 11:18pm and arrived at the gate at 11:25pm. While at baggage claim, I was surprised to hear an announcement that AA flight 185 from JFK had also landed and passengers could pick up their bags at baggage carousel three.

I know American Airlines has a flight almost every hour but was surprised to hear that one had landed around the same time we did. So I looked up the flight number on Flight Aware (I love their website) and saw that the flight was scheduled to depart 30 minutes after ours but arrived just seven minutes after. How’s that? Well, it looks like our flight went around a storm (screenshot is above) while theirs went right through it (screenshot is below).

Just before we took off, a flight attendant warned passengers that there could be some nasty turbulence after Chicago and made it sound like it would be that way across the country. He said they would hurry up and complete the meal service so the crew would be able to take their jump seats if needed. That’s always nerve-racking because it means there’s going to be severe turbulence.

Fortunately, the turbulence wasn’t that bad and the flight attendants never had to take their jump seats. But after looking at the maps on Flight Aware and seeing we went around the storm while flight 185 went through it, I wondered if those passengers had experienced the severe turbulence. If so, I’m glad we took the longer route because I’d rather have a longer flight with smooth air than a shorter flight with rough air.

How about you? Would you rather take a longer flight with turbulence or a shorter flight with turbulence? Let me know in the comments!


19 Comments On "What's Better: A Shorter Flight With Turbulence, or a Longer Flight With No Turbulence?"
  1. Kathleen M|

    longer flight path FOR SURE !!!!

  2. Ted Eckman|

    I’m with you. A longer flight with little or no turbulence is better for me. When there’s turbulence I’m always tightly gripping the armrest and my heart races. Logically I know it’s really not all that dangerous, but I still hate it.

  3. Kelly Stevens|

    Definitely longer with no turbulence! I hate that feeling of not knowing what is going on, how long it will last, and if it will cause something bad to happen to the airplane.

  4. Bill|

    I just returned to ORD from MAD and while we arrived an hour earlier than scheduled we plowed through two solid hours of some pretty rough turbulence to do it. Perhaps there was no other route option available (these were not severe thunderheads just rough air) but I can tell you I would have taken the extra hour over the two hours of deep relaxation breathing exercises half ther plane was practicing!


    Hello, Johnny Jet,
    I would prefer full service and relax on the safer route. Connection to another city might weigh in with my decision. I fly at least once a week throughout the US. I love your educated helpful site,
    Johnny Jet, I used to be with Pan Am and the thrill of travel is still alive and well with me..
    I just wish people were more respectful of each other and realized their destination was not the gym or outward bound park trail. A few flights to anywhere outside of the US might prove to be eye-opening to the unrestrained dress code credo “I am more casual than you” of American travelers. A visit to International arrivals might to helpful.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thanks for the comment!

  6. Bob Robar|

    smooth flight anytime!

  7. Tom Lieser|

    JJ: I Prefer longer flight with less turbulence. But how much discretion does flight crew have? Don’t airlines have some general guidelines for dealing with turbulence, e.g., safety, comfort, fuel consumption, etc. I find it odd that two aircraft from same airline confronting same weather would differ that much.

  8. John|

    Prefer the longer flight around turbulence as long as it arrives at destination not more than 15 min late

  9. Nancy Olsen-HArbich|

    I vote with you! Turbulence unnerves me!

  10. FacsRfriendly|

    Who decides the rout? ATC, airline’s personal routing or the pilot?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Good question. Will ask our resident pilot.

  11. Ellen Clark|

    Are you kidding me, I’d take time over turbulence any day. I really do not like turbulence, just like I don’t like roller coasters!

  12. Lynn Arbogast|

    Longer flight with NO turbulence would be preferred. Turbulence prevents food and beverage service and going to the bathroom.

  13. Nel|

    NO TURBULENCE, please!
    Turbulence is the MAIN reason I am trying to avoid air flying, when possible.

  14. Alda|

    I’m an ex-aerophobic. i know that turbulence means nothing for the plane. But I prefer long flights with no turbulence. I’m used to the long flights (normally never fly less than 7 hours) but even knowing that I’m better I will never be used to turbulence.

  15. T Smith|

    Hi Johnny, I enjoy reading about others experiences, I am a very fearful flyer, glad to hear others have challenges too!

  16. Jon DeGeorge|

    Longer, with no turbulence is better.

  17. QoyaD|

    Definitely a longer flight with no turbulence. I hate turbulence. It’s the major thing that makes a flight unenjoyable for me. Although it’s nothing major, the constant movement makes me sick and my mind race!

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