Destination Flights Are Sometimes Longer Than Return Flights, And A Meteorological Phenomenon Is To Blame


Long plane journeys, especially those with a trans-Atlantic route, have a feature that many travelers notice, but never really question. Even though the destination and return flights cover exactly the same distance, the time it takes to depart isn't necessarily the same as it takes to return.

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You just have to take a look at the timetables of any airline or at the details on the boarding pass to realize that, for example, a flight from Barcelona to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, takes approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes, but the return journey takes about ten minutes less. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal, but if we do the same for a route between Madrid and New York, the difference becomes one hour.

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The explanation is the "Jet Stream". That is, a current produced in the zone separating the troposphere (the layer of our atmosphere which is in contact with the surface of Earth) and the stratosphere, and which goes to the East. This current reaches speeds of more than 190 miles per hour, which is why flights heading West are almost always longer.

Ekaterina Pokrovsky /

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