Airlines Wrestling With Shifting Weight Limits Due to Extreme Heat

It's a challenge unlikely to go away

Airport gate sign
Extreme heat is giving air travelers new headaches.
Ying Tang/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As global temperatures increase, so too do the number of activities that are being altered in fundamental ways by the rising heat. Outdoor exercise, to cite one example, could be limited as temperatures make activities like walking unsafe for a growing number of people. Even air travel, which you might not think would be affected by extreme heat, encounters some metaphorical turbulence when extreme heat and humidity enter into the mix.

And for some unlucky air travelers, that’s led to them being bumped from their flights. The issue has to do with the science of flying — essentially, the hotter it is, the less weight you can have on board. Bloomberg News recently reported on a group of Delta passengers who volunteered to give up their seats on July 17 as a result of heat-related issues.

Other airlines Bloomberg News spoke with have tried to plan ahead — an American Airlines spokesperson noted that the airline had tried to factor in temperature-related issues for the season. Even with that in mind, the spokesperson quoted in the article alluded to “a very small number of diversions and delays related to high temperatures.”

What to Know About Flying in Extreme Heat
Because it’s hot af out there

Delays due to cold weather — specifically, snow and ice — are nothing new for air travelers, but the flip side of that does feel like something new. And with temperatures growing hotter, this is unlikely to stop being a challenge in the years to come.


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