British Airways Boeing 747 breaks transatlantic flight time record, flies New York to London in under five hours

Unusually strong winds have helped power a British Airways flight from New York to London and break the record for the fastest flight between the two cities by a subsonic aircraft.

The flight, which usually takes close to seven hours, took just four hours and 56 minutes.

An intense weather system named 'Storm Ciara', brought with it winds at ground level of over 100km/h; which meant the British Airways flight enjoyed a tailwind jet stream speed of 418km/h. 

Despite the world's skies being filled with more and more twin-engine modern airliners, it was the queen of the skies - the Boeing 747-400 - that cracked this record, travelling at 1327km/h.

The aircraft beat the previous record, which was posted by a Norwegian Dreamliner in 2019 when it flew the same route in five hours and 13 minutes.

Transatlantic speed:

  • A regular commercial flight from New York to London usually takes around six hours and 55 minutes
  • The iconic, supersonic Concorde had a standard transatlantic flight time of just three hours and 30 minutes
  • The fastest ever Concorde flight between New York and London took just two hours and 52 minutes

Describing the speed as 'phenomenal', aviation consultant and former British Airways pilot Alastair Rosenschein said jetstreams can be just as troublesome as they are helpful.

"Turbulence in those jet streams can be quite severe, but you can also find it can be a very smooth journey," Rosenschein said.

"The pilot will have sat their aircraft in the core of the jet stream and at this time of year, it's quite strong."

That same aircraft won't have the same luck when it heads back to New York - the expected flight time going in that direction is over eight hours.