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Solar Eclipse 2024: Will it impact air travel and should you worry?



This year, an upcoming total solar eclipse is scheduled to grace the sky on April 8. If we go by what the Federal Aviation Administration has to say, this could potentially cause inconvenience for certain air travellers and pilots due to potential flight delays.

As such it has also issued a cautionary notice with regard to this, and asked people not to panic. Anticipated to traverse Mexico, Canada, and the United States, the eclipse will likely affect air traffic and airports along its trajectory from April 7 to April 10, as stated by the FAA in a notice outlining special air traffic procedures. This situation may result in delays for air travellers, particularly as the eclipse coincides with spring break travel, as mentioned by the agency.

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The FAA has projected that any disruptions in air travel caused by the eclipse would be experienced from April 7 at 6 AM until April 10 at midnight. The FAA stated while most travellers are heading to their preferred vacation destinations, a significant number are travelling to various states to witness ‘The Great North American Eclipse’ on Monday, April 8, as such those flying along the eclipse path may encounter limited parking and potential delays at airports due to the high volume of aircraft and drones seeking to witness the total solar eclipse.

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A total solar eclipse, occurring when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, completely obstructing the sun’s face, is an attraction for many due to its rarity. The last total solar eclipse visible in the US occurred in 2017, according to NASA. The FAA noted that numerous travellers are planning to fly to states where the eclipse is expected to be most visible, spanning from Texas to New England, with airports in these states likely to be most affected.

Solar Eclipse 2024: Will it impact air travel and should you worry?

Some are actually even planning their flights to coincide with the actual eclipse, stated FAA Aviation Safety Expert Kevin Morris. The FAA anticipates a surge in air travel for eclipse viewing coinciding with spring break travel, making the upcoming week ‘the busiest of the season.’ The FAA is actively ensuring that pilots are well-prepared for the eclipse, offering guidance to commercial and private pilots that includes preparing for larger-than-normal numbers of aircraft and drones in the area, potential delays, and limited parking at certain airports.

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‘And remember, never look directly at the sun,’ Morris stressed. According to NASA, it is unsafe to directly observe the sun during an eclipse without specialised eye protection for solar viewing. Although delays and cancellations are anticipated to be infrequent, the FAA advises travellers to verify the status of their flights and access important travel tips on the FAA website prior to heading to the airport.

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