For the first time in years, a commercial passenger plane has flown across the Atlantic in less than five hours. A British Airways flight landed early Sunday morning at Heathrow Airport in London after leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York just four hours and 56 minutes earlier.
That set a new speed record for subsonic — or slower than the speed of sound — commercial aircraft to fly between the two cities, according to Flightradar24, which tracks global flights. The previous record was held by a Norwegian Air flight, which flew between the two cities with a flight time of five hours and 13 minutes.
The flight had been expected to take 102 minutes longer. The recent average flight time between New York and London is 6 hours and 13 minutes, according to Flightradar24.
The wind and air currents were ideal for a fast flight, said Ian Petchenik, Flightradar24's director of communications. "In the winter, the jet stream dips down a bit," he said. “It's kind of in a perfect spot for flights across the North Atlantic to take advantage of it.”
British Airways just narrowly beat out a Virgin Atlantic flight, which arrived in London at around the same time but one minute slower. British Airways confirmed the flight time for the Boeing 747 plane, saying the company prioritizes safety over speed.
The supersonic Concorde flights used to fly across the Atlantic in just over three hours, but stopped flying in 2003.