I noticed that my flight going east to west took almost an hour longer than when coming back from west to east in continental US. What is the reason for this?

  • I blame it on the wind (no, seriously - if the wind is blowing east to west, that will speed up travel in that direction, and slow it down in the other direction) Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 5:49
  • Note that it doesn't have to be that way and can also be the other way around.
    – Belle
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


Wind affects how long a flight takes.

A jet plane travels at about 550 miles per hour. If you have a 100 mph head wind then your speed overland is around 450 miles per hour. If you have a 100 mph tail wind than your speed over land is about 650 miles per hour. Over the course of a 3600 mile or longer flight (about 6.5 hours without wind) the difference can be quite noticeable.

Furthermore, wind patterns can be seasonal. There are some flights that take 6 hours during part of the year and 9 hours during other parts of the year.

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