Traffic jam at 30,000 feet

I’ve always understood that airplanes follow relatively defined routes as they traverse the world.  It is much easier to make sure that planes don’t collide with each other when they fly on defined “highways” in the sky.  But today is the first time I remember ever seen a traffic jam on that highway.

Somewhere around Washington, DC is where I started noticing the other planes around us.  The first one was a US Airways A320 headed the opposite direction so quickly that I barely could process what was happening before I could even think about grabbing my camera.  And by then it was long gone.  There were a few others, too, including a Southwest 737 that I assume was headed to Baltimore and what I believe is an Air Jamaica plane headed to either Dulles or (less likely) New York CitySBM_4848

There was also the 737 that was just off our left side and a bit low for about 20 minutes.  Eventually it slowed down (or we sped up) and then it was gone.  It was fun to watch, however.SBM_4846

It is often easy to think that you’re all alone up in the air (albeit with 100-300 others) stuck in a long metal tube hurtling through the air at 500+ miles/hour.  Today’s flight was a pleasant reminder that there are thousands of others doing the same thing at the same time, and that you might see them if you stare out the windows a bit.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. got that circle game over lhr a few times, specially coming from amsterdam… not so funny!

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