Flying through severe turbulence?


New member
Has anyone flown through areas which were marked on the map as having severe turbulence? If so, how was it? I will be flying across the east coast tomorrow and it's marked as having wind storms and severe turbulence on the map. Is this going to be traumatizing?? Are the pilots usually able to avoid it, or is there times when they have no choice but to go through it?


New member
I'm from Boston and fly Jet Blue a lot so I often have layovers in JFK. I've hit only light turbulence maybe 80% of the times I've flown in and out but last September I landed in JFK during a rain storm much like this one where there were wind gusts of between 30 and 40mph, and though this was before I found this site, I imagine what I experienced was Moderate (so in the Orange) and the flight attendents would walk up and down the aisles but needed to hold the overhead compartments for balance. Due to the high winds, the plan would rise up then go back down for most of the flight between JFK and BOS and the pilot did warn us "It was bumpy coming in folks, so it'll be bumpy on the way out." I had just arrived from New Orleans and the last 20 minutes of that flight was (for me anyways) almost unbearable, but I'm in panic mode if I hit anything more than Light turbulence and I hate the feeling of your stomach dropping and it was constant during those periods of time. You may experience something similar but it wasn't a hard bounce it was a lift and then a drop, then a lift, then a drop, know what I mean?

I'm not a pilot, so I can't give a professinal answer to the last question but they do fly through rain and wind all the time and it is safe. However, I think there is a cap to how fast the winds are and whether or not planes will fly through that. For example, there is currently a ground delay in effect for JFK (4 hours & 50 minutes, due to wind/weather) and also PHL. Both areas are experiencing heavy rain and wind gusts of over 40mph but I just read that there are wind gusts forecasted for up to 70mph in NYC so maybe anything over 45-50mph is the cap, I don't know. I'll let the pilots on here speak to that. Good luck with your travels and trust that if it's that bad, your flight will likely be delayed until it gets better.


Lifetime Elite
Yes, I have. In 2008 I flew from New Orleans to Phoenix and the Turb Map showed a vast stretch of Severe to Extreme stretching from just east of PHX to Houston. It was from 10,000 to 43,000....meaning no way above, below or around it. It the a jet stream which at that time of year sinks into that region of North America and it was creating a headwind, so the aircraft never got a ground speed much over 360kts...dragging out the whole ordeal.

I fly twice a week, and have flown nearly several hundered times since then, and this was the worst flight I ever had.

It was pretty rough for 3 hours (supposed to be a 2 hour flight). We were rattled around, it was constantly bumpy, we were not allowed out of our seats and neither was the cabin crew. The pilot tried 40, luck..then down to as little as 23,000..same deal. It was pretty exasperating.

I am not afraid of flying or turbulence, but I do get airsick.

Eventually though, you adjust in a strange way. You accept it. I just popped some more dramamine, put on my ipod, and did my anti-airsickness tricks: Lifting my feet of the floor, closing my eyes, keeping my head level. I still felt like reaching for the bag twice but managed to keep it down. Retreat into your mind, ride it out. You have no choice anyhow. Bizzarely, nobody got ill on the least not around me that I could tell.

Turbulence is not going to kill you or crash the plane, so you just have to man up. Pilots try to avoid storms...thunderstorms are the most dangerous but unless you are currently in the southern hemisphere this is not the time of year where they are a problem. And they are usually localized anyhow and easy to steer around..bigger systems pose more of a problem but are not as violent.
Last edited:


New member
So the flight I was talking about turned out to be a false alarm. It was the weekend of the big wind storm, but it died in time for our flight and other than landing in a pretty bad rain storm, which was a bit scary, the rest of the flight was very smooth.

Last weekend I was flying back from FL and the world turbulence index was at 4, and it was a night flight, which I always find to be scarier. Before even getting on the plane they told us to use the bathroom because it was going to be a rough flight and we probably wouldn't be able to get up the whole time. That was a first I ever heard that! I was really considering not taking the flight and just staying 1 more night, but I really wanted to get home so I decided to suck it up and do it. It was the worst turbulence I have ever encountered, like being on a roller-coaster. My friend who travels a lot and says that turbulence doesn't bother him anymore was even bothered by it. It was uncomfortable the whole time, my heart was racing, I was sweating, but I made it though it. After I landed it was a good feeling to know I was able to take the flight, suck it up and get through it, but not something I want to repeat any time soon.

A few things I noticed that helped. 1) Not looking out the window. I usually do this during turbulence, but it actually helps a lot if you resist the urge and don't look out the window the entire flight. 2) Listen to fast paced music and make it loud enough that you can't hear any noise from the plane. 3) Shake your legs, and bounce around in your seat like you are dancing to the music. Obviously not too much that you look like crazy, but moving around on your own makes you feel the bumps a lot less.

Anyway, even though I got through it, I canceled my next trip already because I need a break from flying, it's just too uncomfortable these days to do regularly IMHO. I never have experienced turbulence this frequently and this extreme in all my life as I have been in the last few years. It sucks because I really love to travel!

How did it go? Did you experience any severe on your flight?


New member
You know what's crazy e-bank?

You know what's crazy e-bank?

I was talking to a co-worker today about travel and she mentioned that she was recently on a flight where the pilot came on and told everyone to use the bathroom before he took off and she said it was the worst flight she had had in a long time! Mayhap it was the same as your's.

I do #3 on your suggestion list too lol People look at me like I'm nuts, of course it beats curling up into a fetal position and whimpering like a kid which I have done as well lol.

You deserve a break from flying, it's not so bad once you've had a little lull time. Having to fly constantly with no break can be pretty stressful.


New member
If you're flying in a plane with a center row, best thing you can do if it's a light passenger flight is lay stretched across several seats. I once had a whole row to myself on a flight to Atlanta from LAX on a Delta 767. I laid flat on my back. It's amazing how much less you feel it when laying down. I think the balance receptors in your brain feel drops most when you are sitting vertically, so a vertical up drop when you're sitting upright you feel it in your stomach. But when laying down horizontal, a drop doesn't trigger those same receptors.


New member
For Skadanks and everyone -- this might be why those flat bed seats are easier during turbulence...on a flight recently from Dubai to JFK, during the volcanic ash so it was longer than usual (15hours and 45 minutes) in business class, I apparently slept through major bumps which I never do. Aided by Zolpidem, though...