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These Are The 5 Most Turbulent Flight Routes In North America Right Now  

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Turbulence can lead to a bumpy flight but it can also slow down your journey time or even put you at risk of injury.  

No one likes the stress of flying through turbulence but sometimes it is just an inevitable inconvenience.

Delta Airlines plane is flying in the sky. Freedom, vacation, travel, air transportation concept

So are there routes you could take to avoid turbulence? And are some flight routes just more turbulent than others? The answer is yes.  

According to research by Turbli these are the 5 most turbulent flight routes in North America right now:

5. Warwick (PVD) and Syracuse (SYR) 

The flight from Warwick, Rhode Island to Syracuse, New York is a short one, with the entire trip, including take-off and landing, only taking 1 hour. Despite this the journey is the 5th most turbulent in North America.

This is likely to be because the short flight time means the plane flies at very low levels, and this is where aircraft are more likely to experience turbulence.  

Man fastening seatbelt on aircraft during turbulence

4. New York (JFK) and Raleigh/Durham (RDU) 

The 4th most turbulent flight route in North America is between New York JFK and Raleigh-Durham airport.

This is a flight that typically takes just over 6 hours making it one of the longest flights on this list.

Raleigh skyline in the summer with crepe myrtle trees in bloom

3. Den (DEN) and Puerto Vallarta (PVR) 

The only flight on this list that leaves the United States and the 3rd most turbulent flight in North America is the route between Denver and Puerto Vallarta.  

That means passengers traveling to Mexico from Denver risk having a more turbulent flight experience than passengers from anywhere else in the country!  

Aerial view of Puerto Vallarta

2. Charlotte (CLT) and Pittsburgh (PIT) 

Another route from North Carolina, the 2nd most turbulent flight path in North America is between Charlotte and Pittsburgh.  

The good news is that because the flight time for this route is just 1 hour 25 minutes you won’t be experiencing turbulence for an extended period of time as part of this journey.  

View of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from atop a mountain

1. Nashville (BNA) and Raleigh/Durham (RDU) 

Officially, the flight with the highest likelihood of turbulence in North America is the journey between Nashville and Raleigh/Durham.  

This is the 2nd time that the Raleigh/Durham airport in North Carolina appears on this list, meaning that passengers departing from this airport should be particularly aware of the turbulence risk.  

Flight Attendants Pushing A Food Trolley Across A Plane As They Serve Passengers

What Is Turbulence? 

Most people have experienced turbulence but do you actually know what it is?  

In simple terms, turbulence happens when a plane flies through rough air – a bit like going through choppy waves when you’re at sea.  

two pilots sit inside an airplane cockpit as they attempt to safely land a plane

The three main types of turbulence are thermal, mechanical, or shear. Each of these will make the aircraft go up and down suddenly, rock from side to side, or both.  As global temperatures increase we can expect to see more turbulence on aircrafts.

Minor turbulence might cause your drink or your in-flight meal to shake a little. At its most extreme, turbulence can lead to injury as luggage becomes dislodged or passengers trip or fall as they pass through the plane.  

Because smaller planes are lighter they tend to experience turbulence more than larger planes. Smaller planes also tend to fly at a lower altitude, where changes in the air are more common.  

Flight Over Bahamas

Turbli gives the turbulence experienced on each flight an EDR (adding dissipation rate) rating. A rating between 0-20 means the turbulence is light, between 20-40 means the turbulence is moderate, between 40-80 means the turbulence is severe and any rating over 80 means extreme turbulence.  

It’s worth noting that although turbulence levels vary from flight to flight the average turbulence for all of the 5 most turbulent flight routes listed above for 2023 was below 20 meaning the average turbulence level was light.  

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Friday 12th of January 2024

One big reason why you should take bigger planes on Atlantic or Pacific flights.

It is worth noting that sometimes turbulence can shorten your journey. When your plane catches a strong tailwind from the jetstream you will feel slight chop joining the fast moving air but increasing your ground speed by 50-100 mph can shorten the flight. Of course headwinds would slow you down so they fly lower or non direct routes to avoid this.