British Airways Plane Flying From NY to London Lands Nearly Two Hours Early Due to Winds from Storm Ciara
A British Airways plane flew from New York to London in less than five hours, becoming the fastest-ever subsonic flight between the two cities, as it raced to beat a storm heading toward the United Kingdom, according to reports.
The flight, which flew from Saturday to Sunday, reached a top speed of over 800 mph, according to CNN, making the journey in only four hours and 56 minutes. Flying time is typically about six hours and 13 minutes, the network noted, citing flight tracker Flightradar24.
“The flight was riding a much stronger than usual jet stream, with winds over 200 mph propelling the aircraft," senior CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.
The previous similar record was held by a Norwegian plane that flew from New York to London’s Gatwick Airport in 5 hours 13 minutes, Flightradar24 reported. And the fastest transatlantic passenger flight ever was a two hour and 52 minute flight on the Concorde in 1996, Sky News reported.
According to CNN, the British Airways plane went faster than the speed of sound, or 767 mph. But Flightradar24 reported that it did not “break the sound barrier.”
"We always [prioritize] safety over speed records, but our highly trained pilots made the most of the conditions to get customers back to London well ahead of time,” a British Airways spokesperson told the network.
The plane was rushing to get to London as Storm Ciara was making its way toward the UK and Europe with wind gusts of more than 90 mph on Sunday, The Weather Channel reported. The U.K. Met Office national weather agency issued 250 emergency flood warnings and 183 flood watch alerts, according to the channel.
The storm resulted in flight cancellations for tens of thousands of passengers at London’s busy Heathrow airport, The Independent reported. About 300 arrivals and departures were grounded, while British Airways cancelled about 140 flights as a precaution.
The strong winds caused planes to sway and even forced one plane from Florida to abort its landing at Gatwick Airport three times before finally landing on the fourth attempt, according to The Daily Mail.
“I've never had anything quite like it,” one passenger on the plane told the paper. “I admit I was scared. It [the plane] was veering around and it kept shaking. The pilot did a very good job to land it.”
Additionally, The Independent reported that flights from several U.S. airports, including Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, were cancelled.