Don't Let the Cold Keep You Down: 6 Reasons Flying in Winter Beats Flying in Summer (2023)

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Every flying season has its own set of pros and cons, but winter is a spectacularly unique time to fly. With higher performing aircraft, better visibility and gorgeous views of the landscape from above, among other things, you’re bound to enjoy a cold weather flying experience. In fact, flying in winter can be even more enjoyable than flying during summer — even if it is a little bit chilly outside.

So in the spirit of the season, here are six reasons why flying in the winter beats flying in the summer. Let’s get started!

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1) Quicker Climbs, Faster Takeoffs

Colder, denser air improves both airlift and engine performance, meaning the aircraft gets more power. With more air getting into the cylinders, and a greater mass of fuel/air mixture, a plane can accelerate more quickly upon take off. You will notice that the plane has increased climb rate, reduced take-off roll, more lift (for the wings), and the plane is able to take off even when the ground speed is low. The propeller bites into the denser cold air. The greater air mass is thrust backward. This leads to more power and thrust. When the plane has more power, it can quickly accelerate upon take off.

2) Take Advantage of the Jet Stream

During the winter, there are strong winds that drive the jet stream south from Canada, bringing higher speeds to those aircraft operating above 10,000 feet. Pilots flying east may still add an extra 30 knots or so to their speed at the bottom two miles of sky, while pilots flying west can often mitigate the effect of headwinds by operating at the lowest possible height.

3) Visibility is Better

Visibility is drastically improved In winter (as long as you’re not flying through a snowstorm, of course), typically much better than the hazy days of summer thanks to lower humidity. In fact, much of the time, you’ll be greeted by clear air, sunshine and little to no clouds, even if it’s a tad cold. If you want to be able to see for miles from the cockpit, winter is the perfect time to fly.

4) Unique Beauty from Above

As visibility increases, so does your ability to take in the scenery from above. There’s nothing as breathtaking as flying on a clear winter day, where the earth seems to be endless. Every time you take your plane out for a flight during winter, you’ll be impressed with the fantastic views of the dramatic snow-covered landscape.

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5) Less Air Traffic

Another benefit of winter flying is less air traffic. With less traffic in the air, fewer planes landing and taking off, you’ll feel like you have the sky all to yourself, plenty of space to practice climbing, turns, stalls and barrel rolls. Plain and simple, this means less stress for you as a pilot and more enjoyable time flying.

6) Less Turbulence

When heat from land bodies radiates into cooler air, this creates the effect we know as convective heat, or turbulence. Because there is less convective heat during the winter, the cold dry air contains less turbulence. During summer, there are more pockets of hot air closer to the ground that escapes to higher altitudes, causing bumpiness during flight. And, because of climate change, there is increasingly more heat throughout the year. Therefore, winter is normally the best time to fly in order to avoid bumpy air. Plus, with reduced convective activity, there is a lesser chance of thunderstorms, so if winds are low, then flights are usually much smoother.

Enjoy Your Winter Flying Experience!

Flying during winter can be just as enjoyable, if not more so, than flying during summer. You’re bound to enjoy a number of benefits, from improved aircraft performance to less air traffic to fewer planes in the sky and beyond. Enjoy your winter flying experience!

Do you want to learn how to fly? Get in touch with Inflight Pilot Training today.

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Is it better to fly in summer or winter? ›

Most pilots agree that summer is the favored season for flying. Aircraft engines may prefer winter with its cool, oxygen-rich air, but summer often brings less weather and fog, better visibility and generally more agreeable flying conditions.

What are the advantages of flying in cold weather? ›

With less convective activity, there is much less chance of thunderstorms, so if winds are low, then flights are usually much smoother. Also, lower humidity improves visibility. Another benefit of winter flying: less air traffic. That means less stress, and greater enjoyment of flying.

What temperature is too cold for planes to fly? ›

If the airplane can be kept in a hangar prior to flight, it can operate in very, very cold conditions. Airplanes fly in minus 56 celsius (-69 degrees Fahrenheit) or colder conditions at altitude, therefore if the fluids can be kept warm, the airplane can usually operate.

What weather stops planes from flying? ›

Flights may be canceled due to wind, precipitation, fog or low visibility, lightning, low clouds, or storms. Outside temperature does not always affect flights. Pilots make the final determination as to whether a flight will occur or whether one in progress will be diverted to another airport.

What are the worst days to fly? ›

The Worst Days of the Week to Fly

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are the days with the highest cost and lowest number of award seats.

What is the safest time of year to fly? ›

When is the safest time to fly? Summertime is the safest season to fly. Earlier in the day is the safest time of day to fly. More accidents occur later in the day when the pilots are tired, especially when the weather is bad and there have been delays.

How do you survive flying with a cold? ›

If you're traveling with a cold, consider the following to get relief:
  1. Take a decongestant containing pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) 30 minutes before takeoff.
  2. Chew gum to equalize pressure.
  3. Stay hydrated with water. ...
  4. Bring tissues and any other items that can make you more comfortable, such as cough drops and lip balm.

How do you fly survive the winter? ›

In the language of entomologists this is called a complete metamorphosis. Most species of fly spend the winter buried 1 to 6 inches beneath the soil in their third or pupal stage of development. Some species, however can overwinter as adults or even as maggots (the larval stage of development).

Can cold weather delay a flight? ›

Both here and elsewhere in the United States, severe winter weather could impact travel plans. In fact, according to Airlines for America, weather is the most common cause of flight cancellations.

At what temperature can a plane not take off? ›

Different airplanes have a different maximum operating temperature. Bombardier jets, for example, are designed to operate in temperatures of no more than 118 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas larger Airbus and Boeing jets are able to operate in temperatures of no more than about 126 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do planes fly when it snows? ›

It can be quite wet or very dry. This depends mostly on the air temperature. If the snow is very dry, as it often is in areas such as northern Canada and Scandinavia, there can be times when it's possible to take off with visible snow on the runway. This depends on how slippery the runway is.

Can planes fly in rain? ›

Modern aircraft can generate lift regardless of the heaviness of the rain. Planes can and will take off and land in the rain. The only real problem with heavy rainfall is the decrease in visibility for the pilots.

Can planes take off in lightning? ›

Ultimately, it is usually perfectly safe for planes to fly in storms. Today's aircraft, especially big passenger airplanes, are designed to deal with lightning strikes, rain, and other conditions.

Do planes stop flying at night? ›

Aviation is a 24/7 business where the clock is little more than a number for the departure or arrival of planes flying at night. Certain segments of the industry kick into high gear once the sun sets, particularly freight operations and air ambulances or medical evacuations.

Do planes fly in lightning? ›

Lightning can strike a plane when travelling through or near a storm, however, you'll still remain safe when in the air. The aircraft are designed to withstand lightning strikes and the electric current travels alongside the aluminium frame.

What is the best hour to fly? ›

According to data gathered by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the best time to fly is between 6 and 7 a.m. Flights with scheduled departures in that timeframe arrived just 8.6 minutes late, on average. Meanwhile, flights that take off before 6—or between 7 and 8 in the morning—are fairly punctual, too.

What day is the cheapest to fly? ›

Typically, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday is the cheapest day to fly. If you can structure your travel schedule around these days, these will likely be the best days to fly – both for a lower cost and a less-hectic airport experience.

What's the busiest day to fly? ›

In most years, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is actually the busiest travel day for U.S. airports, according to the Transportation Security Administration, which tracks the numbers of passengers screened daily.

Do planes fly faster at night? ›

At night, there's usually fewer flights and fewer passengers, so you can definitely expect faster movements on all lines.

Which month do people fly the least? ›

As a general rule, flying in quiet months between holidays is your best bet to get a cheap, less crowded flight. You should definitely try the second half of January, the first days of February, early May, or the most part of September and October.

Is flying at night safer? ›

Why is it safer to fly at night? If you want to avoid turbulence, night (and early morning) is one of the best times to fly. Winds die down at night, which reduces mechanical turbulence, particularly over hills and terrain. Thunderstorms also tend to dissipate at night, which enhances safety in regions prone to storms.

Can you fly with a stuffy nose? ›

PLEASE NOTE: You should avoid flying if your nose is congested from a cold or allergies. In the most severe case, this may lead to a permanent decrease in your hearing, prolonged dizziness, or severe pain.

How do you get rid of a cold in 24 hours? ›

4 Ways to Get Rid of a Cold in 24 Hours
  1. Don't overdo it. When you start to feel like you're getting sick, this is often your body's way of telling you to ease up, slow down, and take care of yourself. ...
  2. Get enough sleep. ...
  3. Stock up on OTC meds. ...
  4. Fluids are your new best friend.

Can pilots fly sick? ›

The safest rule is not to fly while suffering from any illness. If this rule is considered too stringent for a particular illness, the pilot should contact an aviation medical examiner for advice.

How long can a fly live? ›

The life expectancy of a housefly is generally 15 to 30 days and depends upon temperature and living conditions. Flies dwelling in warm homes and laboratories develop faster and live longer than their counterparts in the wild. The housefly's brief life cycle allows them to multiply quickly if left uncontrolled.

What happens when a fly dies? ›

Dead flies remain stuck where they died by their proboscis. Most flies die a few hours before nightfall.

How long does it take to freeze a fly? ›

An alternative way is to put the flies in the freezer for about 8 minutes. This will cause the flies to fall into a state of stupor.

Does temperature affect flight? ›

Not only do high temperatures affect how we work and sleep, but they also have an effect on how aircraft fly. As the mercury rises, the air density changes, which reduces the performance of the lift-generating wings. Pilots have ways around this — but only up to a certain point.

How cold is it at 35000 feet? ›

At higher altitudes the atmosphere is colder. At 10,600 meters (35,000 feet), (the average cruising altitude of a modern passenger jet) the temperature is about -40°to -51°C (-40°to -60°F).

How cold is a plane at night? ›

AeroTime Hub reports that, typically, planes are kept between 22°C and 24°C (or, roughly, between 71°F and 75°F).

Can you breathe at 30 000 feet? ›

Somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 feet the pressure around you becomes far too low to push those oxygen molecules across the membranes in your lungs, and you get hypoxic (altitude sickness). If you try to breathe 100 percent oxygen above 40,000 feet for very long without a special type of mask, you'll die.

Can planes fly in 8 degrees? ›

The outside air temperature on a flight at 30,000 feet regularly reach temperatures as low as -80C, or even -100C without any problems. Aircraft are designed to cope with all weather extremes and the speed and movement keeps the temperature in the engines and fuel tank much higher than the outside temperature.

Do planes land in heavy snow? ›

Under heavy snowfall, runways will need to be de-iced so that the plane does not lose traction when it touches it. Another drawback of flying under heavy snowfall is that it will reduce visibility during crucial parts of takeoff and landing, which usually leads to delays and cancellations.

Do planes fly slower in snow? ›

Residual snow on the runway makes the plane's brakes less effective. It takes planes more runway to get the plane slowed down. And planes have to slow down more. On a dry runway, planes can turn off the runway onto a taxiway going twenty miles-per-hour.

Can planes still land in snow? ›

To help combat this, runways have lengthened landing distances during storms. But even a healthy amount of snow won't keep you grounded indefinitely — airports have and are trained in the use of equipment that helps clear excess snow off their runways.

Are flights cheaper in summer or winter? ›

It's often much cheaper to travel from May to early June and late August through mid-October. The weather is still relatively warm during the shoulder season, and you'll beat the crazy summer crowds. This is when we find the best international flight deals!

What month is the best month to fly? ›

For the lowest fares on domestic flights, travel in January or February. But for international trips, you'll find the cheapest fare in August.

What are the most turbulent months to fly? ›

Winter and summer are the most turbulent months to fly. During winter, there are strong winds and blizzards. During the peak of summer when it is very hot, convection turbulence occurs, especially when flying over cities and mountains during midday.

Do planes crash more in winter? ›

So summer has 30% more flights than winter, but 90% more accidents. Even after adjusting for this, an airliner flight in winter is only a third as likely to have an accident as a flight in summer. Save this answer.

What day of the week is cheapest to fly? ›

If you're flying domestically, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are the 3 cheapest days to fly. But Wednesday holds the biggest airfare savings, so if you can, plan to depart and return on a Wednesday. If you're flying internationally, Wednesday and Thursday are the cheapest days to fly.

What part of the year is cheapest to fly? ›

The site is good at tracking down an affordable fare, and it shared its expertise on what time of year you might find flights at their most affordable. It says the cheapest time of year to fly is January and February. (Well, less that little bit at the beginning of January after New Year's Day.)

Is it better to fly at night or day? ›

Q: Is it easier to fly at night or day? A: It is probably easier to fly during the day due to the improved visibility. However, a peaceful night flight is most enjoyable.

Will flights get cheaper in 2023? ›

“In 2023, we expect that [trend] to reverse and year-over-year fares to fall,” Keyes said, pointing to Federal Reserve data indicating recent, modest drops in airfare—a shift that comes as airlines have begun to add more flights, fueling competition.

Which airline is best for turbulence? ›

However, generally, the larger the plane, the better it is at absorbing turbulence. For example, due to the sheer size, aircraft like the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 are said to be two of the best planes for coping with turbulence.

Which airport has the most turbulence? ›

Most turbulent airports
#AirportAvg. turbulence (edr)
6 more rows

What time of year is least turbulent? ›

Because there is less convective heat during the winter, the cold dry air contains less turbulence. During summer, there are more pockets of hot air closer to the ground that escapes to higher altitudes, causing bumpiness during flight.

What was the worst month for plane crashes? ›

August 1985 remains commercial aviation's deadliest month for passengers and crew (a distinction from the non-passenger fatalities of the September 11, 2001 attacks) in history.

Which airline has never had a plane crash? ›

Running since 1929, Hawaiian is among the oldest airlines in the world but, remarkably, it has never suffered a single fatal crash or hull loss.

Which airline has the least crashes? ›

Air New Zealand is the safest airline in the world for 2022, according to, with carriers like Etihad Airways, TAP Air Portugal, Qatar, Qantas, Lufthansa, and Finnair also making the list.


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