If you’re planning a visit to Japan this August, there’s no need to panic
Flight plans: East Coast flight paths disrupted by Southwest jet over New York, with all flights rerouted
Travel to Japan during Covid-19: What you need to know
There are some slightly nerve-wracking travel news stories out there, and this is arguably one of the toughest.
Anyone looking forward to travelling to Japan around August or September has been told to make some late changes to their plans. Southwest Airlines flight 6221 from Dallas Love Field is currently overflying northern New York, making the local US air traffic control radar so poor that all aircraft are being rerouted.
The route involves a total of three planes, and can cause delays of up to 3 hours. Air traffic control has been warned that the situation could worsen in the case of severe thunderstorms, but has also said there will be no flight changes until further notice.
For travellers with a long-haul connection heading from New York to Tokyo, there are a range of alternatives in place. Aeromexico is currently running a code-share flight from Mexico City to Tokyo Narita with Continental Airlines flights from Newark (link) onwards to join in.
The best advice remains to follow the updates on the news and airlines’ website if you’re not sure when to make travel plans.
The so-called incident is the latest in a series of incidents over the last year or so that have seen air traffic control dispense with some safety measures in order to increase speed. These happen on a consistent basis, and its far from the first disruption.
On 27 June this year, due to a similar approach delay involving two BQX planes, all flights travelling from Newark were diverted to Philadelphia for a period, and from there for an extended period of time.
In the year before that, US plane manufacturer Boeing received criticism for allowing some US officials to reroute flights to accommodate its employees, as a response to the January 2015 Japan-bound ANA flight from Sydney that was grounded after problems with its tail.
But while thousands of flights are disrupted due to weather problems over the US every year, the passengers who are affected are generally not the ones flying in and out of major hubs, and do not incur the costs of costly delays.
There has been no reported damage to the planes, nor any injuries related to the incident.