Airlines Are Canceling U.S.-Bound Flights in Response to the 5G Rollout

Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, and Emirates Airline have suspended some US-bound flights.

Ceri Breeze/Shutterstock
Ceri Breeze/Shutterstock

On Wednesday, Verizon and AT&T rolled out their highly-anticipated 5G C-Band—much to the dismay of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has spent months delaying the process. Airline CEOs have gone as far as call the technology a "catastrophic disruption" to travel. Now, as expected, international carriers are suspending flights to the US where the updated 5G has landed.

Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, and Emirates announced that some of their flights would be delayed or canceled while British Airways has already gone ahead and canceled seven US-bound Boeing 777 flights on Wednesday. According to CNBC, Boeing had notified airlines that the 5G signals could "interfere with the radio wave altimeter installed on the Boeing 777." Altimeters measure the distance between the plane and the ground, which can prevent issues during difficult weather conditions and help to avoid crashes.

Routes on Emirates to Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Newark, Seattle, LAX, JFK, and Washington DC were affected, with disruptions expected to continue through Thursday, the airline said.

"Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused," the company said in a statement. "We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our US services as soon as possible."

Meanwhile, Delta is preparing for the "possibility of weather-related cancelations caused by the deployment of new 5G service in the vicinity of dozens of US airports, starting as early as Wednesday."

"The FAA, which regulates airlines, has issued numerous notices that restrict flight activity near airports where this new deployment of 5G service in the C-Band spectrum could cause limited interference with altitude instruments on aircraft under various weather conditions that aircraft safely operate in today," the airline said in a statement. "As such, Delta is taking the necessary steps to ensure safety remains the priority in compliance with FAA guidelines."

Delta Air Lines is waiving fare changes for customers that have to rebook in the wake of 5G disruptions.

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.