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What caused this thick fog to fill an airplane before take-off?

Wednesday, August 14th 2019, 3:58 pm - Not exactly the scene you want to see when you're waiting for take-off.

Passengers aboard a Delta airlines flight found themselves in a haze -- quite literally -- when their plane's cabin filled with fog on Sunday night.

The plane, set to depart from Jacksonville, Florida, and bound for John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, filled with thick mist while it waited on the tarmac, leaving passengers to wonder what was going on.

Passenger Amanda Goncalves told CBS News there was no odour, but the fog lasted for 30 minutes as the plane sat on the tarmac before take-off.

"People were wondering why it was lasting so long. The flight attendants didn’t really make an announcement. They just said they were practicing for their Halloween haunted house. They made a joke of it instead of saying it was from the humidity or condensation," Goncalves said.

Goncalves was on the right track, though; condensation mist isn't out of the ordinary when the air conditioning is turned on in a plane's cabin, particularly when the aircraft is in a region with high humidity. You can sometimes see the same effect, although to a lesser degree, when you turn the a/c on in your car on a hot, humid day.


The observations from Jacksonville Airport from around the time of the flight showed heavy thunderstorms in the area, along with very high humidity -- about 71 per cent relative humidity. As soon as the captain turned on the air conditioning, a normal part of the pre-flight routine, much cooler air started flooding into the cabin, resulting in rapid condensation as it encountered the humid 'air mass' inside.

It is unusual, however, for this much condensation to occur, or for it to persist for so long. The passengers who were interviewed didn't mention if it was unusually sticky when they first boarded the aircraft, but it seems likely. The CBS reporter said she did reach out to Delta, who confirmed "the incident was related to humidity," and added that the airline was not required to report it to the Federal Aviation Administration. The flight did proceed normally, despite the foggy start.


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