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I know flying from Boston to London is faster than the reverse probably due to the direction of the wind. But why does it take 4 hours to fly from Rabat to London while only 2 hours from London to Rabat?

[Edit: the screenshot was from the official website of Ryanair, of the ticket I booked] enter image description here

Is it because of some properties of our earth or regulations?

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    Are these local times and are the places in the same time zone?
    – Willeke
    Apr 21 at 17:45
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    ...because it's a 3-hour flight. London, UK is 1 hour ahead of Rabat, Morocco. An answer to a Travel SE question says "Take-off and landing times are almost always displayed in local timezones at the respective airports." Apr 21 at 17:46
  • @Willeke The fact that the difference is almost exactly two hours seems to indicate that you're right. 2h15m + 1h time difference ≈ 4h10m - 1h time difference. Apr 21 at 17:47
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    @WeatherVane: Just to make it more confusing, Rabat can be one hour ahead, one hour behind, or in the same time zone as London at different times of year. See my answer below. Apr 21 at 18:04
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    Maybe it is uphill?
    – Aganju
    Apr 22 at 0:25

2 Answers 2

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It appears that whatever website you are using to find these flights is not calculating the time zone difference correctly. However, it's wrong for an interesting reason.

Morocco is on the time zone UTC+1 (one hour ahead of UTC) for most of the year. The UK, meanwhile, observes UTC+1 during the summer (from the end of March to the end of October) but UTC+0 during the winter. Most websites would, I expect, take seasonal clock changes into account. If this was that needed to be taken into consideration, the flight time during the month of April would just be the differences in the clock times, and this is what your website showed you.

However, Morocco sets its clocks back to UTC+0 during Ramadan. (This makes the clock time of sunset earlier, which allows observant Muslims to break their fasts earlier.) By the Gregorian calendar, Ramadan lasts from April 2 to May 1 during 2022. This means that at the time of those flights, Rabat will still be one hour behind London; but it is entirely plausible to me that whoever coded this website did not take Ramadan into account, meaning that it calculates the flight times incorrectly. You could test out my hypothesis by using the same site to search for flight times after May 1, when Morocco will have returned to UTC+1.

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  • How do we know it's the 'wrong reason'? The schedule above states 17:30 depart Stansted which is 16:30 GMT. 3+ hours later it lands in Rabat, at 19:45, which is UTC+0. Apr 21 at 18:18
  • @WeatherVane: You're right, it's just a hypothesis. I edited my answer to show how it could be tested. Apr 21 at 18:19
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    @WeatherVane: Nothing's wrong with the times themselves. The OP is confused by the flight durations shown in the screenshot (above the airplane icons), which are being incorrectly calculated for some reason. I believe the reason for this is that the website they're using is not taking Morocco's time change during Ramadan into account. (Though I suppose it could be for any number of other reasons as well.) Apr 21 at 18:23
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    Duh of course. But you do say "Rabat will still be one hour ahead of London". Rabat is one hour behind London, because we put out clocks forward one hour. Apr 21 at 18:26
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    @WeatherVane: Thanks for the note! Edited accordingly. Apr 21 at 18:28
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When calculating time duration, you must convert the local time to UTC+0.

The Ryanair site is not doing that, thus the incorrect result.

The flight to Rabat takes 5 minutes longer than the return flight to London.

  • on the 8th of May 2022, Rabat will switch to UTC+1
City Date local time Time Offset UTC time Duration
London 2022-04-26 17:30 UTC+1 16:30 0
Rabat 2022-04-26 19:00 UTC+0 19:00 150 minutes
Rabat 2022-04-30 19:45 UTC+0 19:45 0
London 2022-04-30 23:10 UTC+1 22:10 145 minutes

On the Time and Date AS site, select a time zone as a starting point to search for any city/place (independent of whatever time zone it may be in):

The result will show you the

  • present, past and expected future

time zone switches of that city/place as an UTC offset: (UTC-/+z)

This can then be used to create the above table.

(I have no affiliation with this site)

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  • What is UTM? Do you mean UTC?
    – Relaxed
    Apr 25 at 10:15
  • @Relaxed Yes indeed, will correct. Apr 25 at 10:21

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