Classroom

July 18, 2013

The LaGuardia Curfew- Why Your Late Flight Ended Up At JFK

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By: Jason Rabinowitz
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Flying from JFK to LGA is still faster than driving on the Van Wyck
Flying from JFK to LGA is still faster than driving on the Van Wyck
Each summer night in northwest Queens, a little known rule takes effect at LaGuardia Airport that ends sending passengers to the wrong side of the county. Referred to as a curfew, LaGuardia closes down to air traffic from 12:01am to 6:01am between April 23rd and October 31st. Once the clock strikes 12:01am, the Port Authority has the option of closing down the field, denying any late arriving flight from landing.

The curfew rule is not set in stone, as exceptions are frequently made. During times of bad weather that create ground delay programs, the Port Authority may extend the curfew as they deem necessary to allow a bulk of flights to land at their intended destination. When exceptions are not made, however, a diversion is the only choice for an aircraft already en route. Most flights that miss the curfew end up 10 miles away at JFK. At this point, airlines will give passengers the option of either terminate there, or take a bus ride back up to LaGuardia.

 

The curfew rules exists for two official reasons. First, noise abatement. Officially, the Port Authority states “To reduce noise, the Port Authority asks the airlines to voluntarily avoid scheduling aircraft operations before 6 a.m. and after 12 midnight at LaGuardia airport. This has a positive effect with regard to aircraft noise at night.” In addition, the curfew also allows heavy maintenance work to be carried out at night without interruption from aircraft operations.

Repositioning flights from JFK to LGA are short, but still not nearly the shortest commercial flight in the world

Repositioning flights from JFK to LGA are short, but still not nearly the shortest commercial flight in the world

The next morning, any airline that had a flight divert now has an aircraft out of position. The solution, of course, is to fly the diverted aircraft back from JFK across Queens County. On July 17th, 2013, a fairly large amount of aircraft did not make it to LGA before the curfew was put in place. The next morning saw at least seven flights from JFK back to LGA. The flights, which most likely none of which had passengers, are comically short. A Delta MD-88 took off from JFKs runway 31L, made a left turn, followed by a quick right turn to enter the LGA runway 22 approach. The total flight time was 15 minutes, from 8:10am to 8:25am.


  • Pat Sullivan

    It has to be fun as a pilot to fly these quick hops. Empty 757 10 miles across town.

  • leroyjabari

    Its funny that a plane flying still takes about the same time as jumping on the Van Wyck (no traffic of course).

  • tsnamm

    When you see the odd UA A320 at JFK thats the reason….an ORD or DEN flight got delayed en route and missed they missed the curfew cutoff…