Photo: Grusho Anna/Shutterstock

A Meteorologist Says Why He Never Books Red-Eye Flights in the Summer

Airports + Flying
by Suzie Dundas Jul 4, 2024

In a recent TikTok video shared by “WeatherChris,” a meteorologist explains why he recommends never booking a red-eye flight in summer.

@weatherchris Why you should NEVER book a night flight during the summer ✈️  (And what to do if you’re a giant idiot like me and end up doing it anyway) #weather #travel #meteorologist #flights #storms #aviation ♬ original sound – Chris Bianchi❄️Meteorologist

While frequent travelers may find the advice fairly obvious, it’s worth noting that summer flight delays are indeed the most common. Of course, the summer storms meteorologist Chris Bianchi discusses aren’t the only reason for the delays, which are also influenced by an increased number of travelers and limited airline and airport staff. More people traveling in the summer means more time spent boarding and disembarking planes, less free time for staff, and fewer available seats to accommodate travelers whose original flights get cancelled or delayed. And some airports are so busy that it doesn’t take much of an interruption for delays to start piling up, no matter what the time of year.

While it’s reasonable to think that flight delays would be worst in the winter, those storms are usually more localized, a representative for FlightAware told the Washington Post in July of 2024. Thunderstorms are wider spread and cause more significant operational changes, according to former pilot and FlightAware representative Kathleen Bangs.

Unfortunately, the later in the day your flight is, the more likely it is to be impacted by earlier summer flight delays. Even if the weather is ideal in your location, your plane, flight crew, or pilot may be coming from an airport that had delays. Delays can compound and back up over the day, and by the time your late-night flight rolls around, the plane could be hours behind schedule. Airlines can usually readjust overnight, meaning that morning flights are much less likely to have significant delays.

summer flight delays - people at airport

Photo: Salty View/Shutterstock

On TikTok, Bianchi had some advice that may be useful to travelers unfamiliar with two airplane tools: FlightAware and FlightRadar24. Both allow you to track your plane to see where its coming from, allowing you to see if delays with your plane are starting to pile up. Some airline apps have a similar functionality; for example, United’s newest app update has a “where is my plane coming from?” feature. However, FlightAware and FlightRadar24 generally have more in-depth reporting available.

WeatherChris’ second piece of advice for avoiding weather delays make sense, but may not always be feasible. He advises that if it looks like your plane is going to be delayed, you should book an entirely separate flight as a back up. The important part is to make sure it’s fully refundable, so you don’t have to pay for it if your original flight pans out. Most airlines charge extra if you want the flight to be fully refundable, and may require you to book something beyond a basic economy or economy fare for the privilege.

summer flight delay - angry red eye guy

Photo: Grusho Anna/Shutterstock

However, there’s one rule that applies to every airline within the US: The Department of Transportation mandates that all airlines must provide a full refund if the customer cancels a booking within 24 hours of making the reservation. However, that rule goes out the window if you book your ticket within seven days of take-off, so it’s really more useful if it looks like a hurricane or major storm may impact flight operations — not for day-to-day weather events.

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