The Bumpiest Flight Routes in the World

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Turbulence is every flyer’s nightmare, popping up out of nowhere and making the smoothest flight feel like a rollercoaster. Out of countless flight paths around the globe, some routes are notorious for their bumpy rides. Here’s a look at the worst of the worst.

The aviation world recently buzzed about a turbulence incident involving Singapore Airlines. The flight from London to Singapore had to make an emergency landing in Thailand, sadly resulting in one death and multiple injuries.

According to Turbli, a turbulence prediction website, around 150,000 routes were analyzed to find the most turbulent flights in 2023. They ranked the routes based on something called the ‘turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate,’ which is just a fancy way of measuring how rough the air gets.

At the top of the list is the 1,180-mile flight from Santiago, Chile to Viru Viru International Airport in Bolivia. Right behind it is the route between Almaty in Kazakhstan and Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

Here are the top 10 bumpiest flight routes in the world:

  1. Santiago (SCL) – Santa Cruz (VVI)
  2. Almaty (ALA) – Bishkek (FRU)
  3. Lanzhou (LHW) – Chengdu (CTU)
  4. Centrair (NGO) – Sendai (SDJ)
  5. Milan (MXP) – Geneva (GVA)
  6. Lanzhou (LHW) – Xi’an (XIY)
  7. Osaka (KIX) – Sendai (SDJ)
  8. Xi’an (XIY) – Chengdu (CTU)
  9. Xi’an (XIY) – Chongqing (CKG)
  10. Milan (MXP) – Zurich (ZRH)

Six of these super bumpy rides are domestic routes in Japan and China. Four of them involve takeoffs or landings in Lanzhou, Chengdu, or Xi’an. The Milan to Geneva route takes the top spot for Europe and is the fifth bumpiest in the world, while Milan to Zurich is tenth.

Aviation expert Ignacio explains that flights over the Andes or the Alps rank high because of mountain wave turbulence over these ranges.

Routes in Japan and China get rough due to high jet stream activity. The jet stream is a core of strong winds blowing from west to east, about five to seven miles up in the sky.

Knowing these routes can help airlines better prepare for turbulence, making flying safer and a bit more comfortable for everyone on board.

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