Of all the things you might hear on a flight, a “we’re expected to land about an hour early” isn’t generally one of them. Another might be flying from New York to London in under five hours. Due to extreme conditions in the UK, a British Airways Boeing 747 and Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350 went head to head last night, both flying the route in under 5 hours, compared to the standard flying time of 6.5 hours and up. That’s wild.

In case you’re ever in a pub quiz, despite being one of the older commercial airplanes still in service, the Boeing 747 also remains the fastest commercial aircraft. Last night, the “Queen of The Skies” proved that yet again, as British Airways 22 year old G-CIVP registered aircraft completed New York to London in 4 hours 56 minutes, setting a new subsonic speed record.

The flight BA 112, scheduled to depart New York at 6:30 PM with an arrival time of 6:25 AM into London left 17 minutes late, but managed to land at 4:43 AM anyway. The plane reached an outstanding top speed of over 800 mph, which is quite a jump from the standard 570 mph cruising speed. Maverick would be proud.

In direct competition, Virgin Atlantic’s brand new Airbus A350-1000 “G-VPOP”, which is less than a year old, managed a flight time of 4 hours 57 minutes, just missing out on the title. To be fair to the silver medal holder, the A350 has half the engines, and did the journey burning roughly half the fuel.

Just to reiterate, this is a route which takes a minimum of 7 hours from London to New York, and rarely under 5 hours and 45 minutes from New York to London. The flight is budgeted at 6:30 minutes, which makes this time genuinely staggering. The flight took advantage of absolutely wild jet stream conditions across the Atlantic due to Storm Ciara – no relation to the pop star –  which made this new record possible.

 

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Fastest subsonic New York to London Atlantic Crossing. It normally takes between 6 to 6:30 to fly across the Atlantic from JFK to LHR, last night we did it in less than 5 hrs. Our @virginatlantic Flight Planning department and Operations Teams found us the shortest and fastest route following a long high altitude (FL370) Jetstream wind of up to 230 knots. With this strong wind behind us we managed a Top speed of 724 knots (833mph/1340 kph) (GS = groundspeed) and an Average speed JFK to LHR speed of 625 knots (718mph/1158kph) When in contact with London ATC and Heathrow Tower, we were given an expeditious arrival and approach. Plus I got to apply my crosswind landing technique, (see my last post) in some pretty wild weather. Unfortunately we were beaten by a BA 747, by a mere couple of minutes, although they had twice the engines and burnt twice the fuel than our 21st Century Airbus A350-1000. #livefromvirgin #subsonic #virgin #atlantic #record #airbus #a350 #bestjobintheworldjustgotbetter

A post shared by ✈️Captain Chris👨🏼‍✈️ (@chrisjpohl) on

No doubt this was super news to those hoping to jump start their time in the UK, but those headed from London to the US overnight or today will find themselves perhaps setting new records on the other end of the spectrum. Flights from London to New York are set to exceed 8 hours today, which makes them nearly as long as a flight to Asia.

Yep, even though flights from New York to London are roughly 1,000 miles longer than flights between New York and Los Angeles, they’re flying faster, and flights from London to New York are taking longer than flights from London to Bangalore, which are roughly 1,500 miles further. Hey, blame it on the weather.

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