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A Guide to Turbulence – The What, Why and How

Travellers have enough to worry about when preparing for a flight.  The last thing they need to worry about is the turbulence experienced during a flight, but almost every traveller – even the most experienced ones – worry about this.

The team at Ace Airport Parking want your travel experience to be as calm and as stress-free as possible.  In an effort to help calm some of your nerves, we have created a comprehensive guide to turbulence.  By learning more about this natural phenomenon, this may help to calm your fears.

A Guide to Turbulence

A Guide to Turbulence                                                                                                        Photo Credit:

What is Turbulence?

When people imagine a plane flying through the air, they think that it is flying straight and in a smooth line.  While this may happen, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate.  Instead, it is more common for a plane to fly through the air and experience the occasional bump or sudden up and down movement.  That sudden movement or bump is known as turbulence.

Why Does Turbulence Happen?

Turbulence happens when there is a disturbance in the flow of air around the plane when it is flying.  There are a number of reasons why air flow may become disturbed.  It could be from the natural change in the jet stream, known as clear air turbulence, or to the sudden appearance of rain, wind, and thunderstorms.

Can Pilots Avoid Turbulence?

Yes and no.  Some types of turbulence, such as those caused by thunderstorms or high winds, can be avoided.  A pilot will usually see the storm on the radar and adjust their flight pattern to try to decrease the chance of experiencing turbulence.  Unfortunately, sometimes adjustments cannot be made and the pilot has to make the best of the situation.

In some cases, such as clear air turbulence, there is no way to detect when turbulence is going to occur.  Pilots can try to make an educated guess as to when clear air turbulence might occur or keep in communication with fellow pilots ahead of them.  Sometimes they may be able to avoid it, but other times not.

How Serious is Turbulence?

Turbulence can be classified into one of three categories: light, moderate, and severe.  The classification of turbulence determines how serious or severe the situation is for a traveller.

The classification system is as follows:

  • Light turbulence – slight bumps and occasional sway of the plane.  It is extremely common and may occur without travellers even knowing about it.
  • Moderate turbulence – bumps and jumps in the plane that may cause drinks to spill.  This turbulence can last anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours.
  • Severe turbulence – sudden dips and jumps in plane altitude.  This type of turbulence is extremely rare.

Regardless of the type of turbulence you experience, it is important to know that pilots are trained to handle all types of turbulence and modern aircraft’s are extremely tough.  Pilots are trained to make your flight as comfortable and turbulence-free as possible.

Are There Things You Can Do to Make Turbulence Easier to Handle?

You might not have any control over whether or not you experience turbulence, but you do have control over how comfortable you might be if you should encounter turbulence.

In an effort to stay comfortable while experiencing turbulence, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Try to sit in the middle of the plane, near the wings.  These seats tend to be the most balanced and you won’t feel the dips and bumps of turbulence as much.
  • Fly on a larger aircraft.
  • Try and take night flights or flights that happen in the early hours of the morning.
  • Try and book a flight on a route which is known for experiencing little to no turbulence.

Turbulence is a natural part of flying but it isn’t something to be afraid of and should never put you off the wonders of travelling.  Hopefully, you can now feel better about the fact that when you do experience turbulence you are in good hands of an experienced pilot who is trained to know how to handle it and make your flight as smooth as possible.

Still, Want to Know More?

You may like our article on those weird aircraft noises that make those bumps and jolts of aeroplane turbulence that little more concerning!

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