Storm Ciara has been a menace for most, felling trees, riling seas and causing travel chaos across Britain and Northwestern Europe. Not so though for the lucky passengers onboard the British Airways flight 112 from JFK to Heathrow Airport on Sunday; they had the honor of being the first people on a subsonic flight to travel from New York to London in under 5 hours, handily beating the previous subsonic record for this route.
The previous record sat at 5 hours and 13 minutes, but it was smashed by the flight that landed at Heathrow Airport on Sunday having taken only 4 hours and 56 minutes to complete the 3440 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. The average time for this flight is around 6 hours and 13 minutes, so you can imagine the passengers surprise on Sunday when they were told that they would be landing almost 2 hours early, at 4:43 am instead of 6:25 am. A little less sleep for those onboard, but worth it for the bragging rights of being on a record-breaking flight.
This was definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time. Thanks to what is thought to have been an extremely strong jet stream, which in turn strengthened Storm Ciara, which subsequently caused a tailwind that pushed the 747 to speeds of up to 825mph, this flight to Heathrow Airport caught the air currents just right. If it had been earlier or later, or on a slightly different path, the passengers would have had a very different journey to contend with, like many others that were caught in the path of Storm Ciara.
There were gusts of 50 to 60 mph to be endured by most, while gusts of 80 to 100 mph were reported by those in seaside locations and on higher ground. This was also accompanied by heavy rainfall, not unheard of at this time of year; but on Sunday, Storm Ciara cut a path of destruction across Britain and Northwestern Europe that is relatively rare in this part of the world. The deluge and wind saw train services canceled, severe weather warnings being issued, and people being told to travel only if necessary. The howl of the wind tore through forests and felled many trees, blocking some roads and adding to the travel chaos.
Heathrow Airport has had to cancel more than 470 flights due to Storm Ciara, with other flights having to be re-routed to different countries, let alone airports. British Airways decided to introduce flexible rebooking options on domestic and European flights to and from Heathrow Airport, as well as London City and Gatwick airport if flights were supposed to be taking off on Sunday; a rare occurrence.
However, this lucky flight landed safely and securely in the record books. Everyone onboard flight 112 now has a claim to fame having traveled on the record-breaking flight of a lifetime, their unintentional upgrade kindly being provided by Storm Ciara, destroyer of many peoples weekend, but the hero of flight 112.