What has been your most turbulent flight?


New member
Hi guys,
What has been your worst flight?
This is mine:

The flight was from New York to San Diego during my visit to USA, during the afternoon. The weather was fair: partly cloudy with plenty of towering cumulus clouds. The takeoff was ok but after about 10-15 minutes when the plane was at more or less at cruising level, trouble came. We started shaking quite strongly. From the window i saw lots of puffy cumulus clouds around, but we weren't flying through them. After ten minutes the pilot announced that the turbulence would have lasted about an hour. And it did. I would say it was most of the time moderate for an hour or more crossing the east part of the states, then it got smoother. The landing was ok. I did't know turbulence could last so long. I don't know if it was for convection or high CAT, because turbulence remained also when the sky was clear. Maybe it was for both.

Anyway, let's hear yours!


Lifetime Elite
Mine was during the summer from Denver to Aspen... you knew it was going to be bad when they announced there would be no beverage service. The plane would feel like it was getting pulled up and then feel like it was being pulled down. Even with my seatbelt on, I was getting air in my seat. The person next to me had to use one of those little bags....


Super Lifetime Elite Diamond
most turbulent flight

most turbulent flight

Hi -- mine was about 8 years ago, in the winter, from Ft. Lauderdale to New York/Newark. It was a repeatedly delayed flight b/c of weather in the NY area. We were hanging around the airport with two very young children and I was also pregnant. It's almost like they wanted our fear factor to rise with an 8-hour delay that they doled out in only one hour to 90 minute increments!

I knew it was going to be bad when we boarded and they warned us, "folks, the flight is going to be a little bumpy." Typical airline understatement. It was turbulent from start to finish -- 2 hours and 40 minutes of torture. And I was in the very back of the plane, the worst possible position! I have casually referred to it as severe turbulence, but in reading and learning more on this web site, I have to say now it was probably "moderate," with some intermittent severe mixed in. Regardless, the experience grounded me for almost two more years! I definitely have tbphobia and just have to keep repeating to myself on these type of flights "It's a bumpy road, just a bumpy road!!" We all have our tricks, but I find putting my head between my knees, closing my eyes and and plugging my ears with my fingers helpful -- like somehow shutting off some senses makes it more bearable. Others are helped by lifting their feet off the floor.

Good luck to all my fellow reluctant flyers!!


Lifetime Elite
I've described my nightmare fligth from Houston to Reagan National Airport before, but what I've found works for me is this: I close my eyes, lay my head back against the headrest, and say, "I'm on a bus traveling down a bumpy road. I'm on a bus traveling down a bumpy road". It works. The thing is, I'm living in Mexico right now, so the roads are really bumpy in some spots. Every time I hit a really bumpy stretch, I just think about how I've never been on a flight that bumpy before.


New member
From Denver to Grand Junction, CO about two years ago. God the whole plane was dropping. Now I have to fly into Grand Junction again from NJ and I'm thinking of connecting in Dallas because there are not so many mountains??


New member
My bumpiest flight was from Las Vegas to Tucson back in 2007. We took off in a thunderstorm and we rocked and rolled. People were screaming, a kid in front of me threw up, a flight attendent trying to stop a man from getting up hit the ceiling, and all the overhead bins shot open. It was the worst 20 minutes of my life. You could hear the thunder from inside the plane, and the lightning was extremely close. I sure was glad to land safe and sound. Even the flight attendants were shaken up. That's not good.


Super Lifetime Elite Diamond
So what happens in cases like these? Do the pilots and those who supervise them know how bad it will be but take off anyway because they are confident they can get from point A to point B without injury (or worse) to people or property? Or are the pilots caught by surprise and as nervous and scared as the rest of us once they hit the rough stuff?


Lifetime Elite
The thunderstorms are visible on radar and pilots will avoid these at all times. Sometimes however, you get too close and experience more turbulence then expected or get hit by lightning even when you're not in the cloud itself. They're always looking for 'holes' between clouds to go through, but weather is very dynamic so you can never really tell what to expect precisely
The radars have their limitations as well, so not all storms may be presented on the screens as they only measure water concentrations.
If there are big storms, we usually wait while on the ground or join a holding pattern where it's clear of thunderstorms.
Hope this helps.


Forum Mod / Channel 9
Worst one for me was actually when I was working for SkyWest as a ground ops instructor. We had just opened the new Killeen, TX station and I had been there for several days. I was really ready to go home. Our flight to IAH ended up canceling due to bad weather, but I noticed American Eagle was still heading to DFW. I ran over and talked to the agent and they let me on the Saab340. Stupid, right? I mean, my own airline thought the weather looked bad and canceled...I should have just sat tight.

We left GRK for DFW and never were able to climb above about FL100. That little plane bounced and jolted it's way to Dallas like nothing I've ever experienced. The FA stayed seated the whole time. The Captain kept coming on the PA to apologize and tell everyone we'd be ok. The woman behind me was crying and eventually throwing up. I had both feet bracing me against the seat base in front of me, yet I still ended up with bruises from whacking my head on the cabin wall. There was lightening all around us, but we never got struck. I was about ready for the Captain to put us down on a dirt road or something...it was intense.


New member
There are two flights that stand out as the worst for me:

1) 5 hours of turbulence over the Atlantic (the fasten seat-belt light was on the entire time until we reached North America). The bumps weren't the worst I've had, but the duration of the incident made it difficult to endure.

2) Moderate to severe turbulence over the US East Coast last year. Lasted about an hour and a half, but the chop was really bad. The plane went up and down and from side to side. No one was talking, everyone was too busy squeezing the armrests and hoping we'd make it to Miami in one piece. The captain came on a couple of times, saying that he'd tried everything he could to make the ride better (asked for another altitude and even changed the route), but there was a very strong West to East jetstream and that the turbulence couldn't be avoided, but that the weather wouldn't cause a delay and that we'd land in Miami as planned.
I've had two pretty nasty flights

I've had two pretty nasty flights

I've had a couple of really bad flights.

The first was coming out of Tampa en route to DC. We got caught in a nasty hailstorm and went through severe turbulence for about twenty minutes. Now, I know everyone thinks they go through severe turbulence when it's moderate at best, but in this case the Pilot came on the PA after we were through the weather and said it was the worst turbulence he'd ever experienced in his career. The plane felt like it was out of control, dropping and springing back up and swerving from side to side. People were screaming, stuff flying through the cabin etc. I was seated near the back, and once it was over I heard one flight attendant say to the other that the Captain told her he couldn't hear ATC because people in the cabin were screaming so loud.

The second flight was on JetBlue from Boston to Vegas. Nearly the entire flight was moderate turbulence due to the jet stream and storm systems in the midwest (this was during the winter). The pilots did everything they could, I felt the plane changing altitudes numerous times. Finally the Captain came on the PA and said there was nothing they could do, they had tried every flight level available and it was just going to be a choppy ride. It wasn't super scary turbulence, but it was very uncomfortable and just wouldn't let up. The flight attendants didn't even get up.


Lifetime Elite
One of the worst flights I've experienced was a return trip from PHX-CVG. Take-off from PHX was alright, but once we passed 070 or so, we began to experience continuous, moderate turb. It stayed this way until we were around the northern tip of Texas. This was around March 20th of 2012, when I believe there was a really strong jet throughout most of the west, and the captain told us there was nothing he could really do about it. Upon descent into CVG, we encountered Severe turb for a few seconds as we descended through a thick cloud... the entire plane leaned to one side for a second, and some loose magazines/books were tossed around. One of those cases where you were finally glad to be on the ground.

Another experience was LAX-ATL... final approach into ATL was a nightmare. Lightning on both sides of us, and maybe 0.5 mi of visibility... it was horrifying.