Summertime Sadness: Hot Weather Causes Worse Flight and Train Performance

89 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2020 Last revised: 1 Nov 2022

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 15, 2019


Despite the well-known fact that flights and trains are likely to be delayed or cancelled due to bad weather, the impact of high temperature is less explored. In this study, I empirically analyze the relationship between hot weather and flight and train performances. With detailed data from performance archives and weather stations, I use flight cancellation, delay and landing performance, and train cancellation and delay as outcome variables. Under an event study design, I compare performances on the hottest days with those on the neighbor days. I find extreme heat events cause flights departing on that day experiences 17% longer arrival delay, 3-6% longer landing time and 11-15% higher possibility of flight cancellation, and 13-22% longer train delay. I also find heterogeneous responses by locations' baseline temperature and operating companies. Relying on the plausibly exogenous variation in temperature, I quantify the nonlinear relationship of temperature on performances. Potential mechanisms of heat impacts include worse catch-up performances of flights, longer take-off time gaps, higher equipment-related accidents in the railway system. My findings help to understand the vulnerability of aviation and railway system to the changing environmental conditions and expand the cost of climate change.

Keywords: extreme heat, event study, infrastructure, climate change adaptation

JEL Classification: Q54, R41

Suggested Citation

Du, Xinming, Summertime Sadness: Hot Weather Causes Worse Flight and Train Performance (December 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Xinming Du (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics