I was on a flight from Sofia to Bologna in mid-September of 2017. It was an early evening flight (can't remember what time we took off but it was already dark), and soon after takeoff, around the time we reached cruising altitude, something like turbulence started but it lasted throughout the rest of the flight, for over an hour straight.

The turbulence was pretty violent: people were throwing up and the captain announced they were going to lower the altitude (I remember it was significant but I don't remember how much exactly).

I remember it was very cold in the plane throughout the whole flight. It was also pitch dark: they turned off all the lights, except for blue lights in the lower part of the aisle. We were relieved to have landed eventually as it was one hell of a flight.

I fly this particular route very frequently and I've never experienced anything similar. Is it possible that it was just regular turbulence or was something wrong?

I'm not terrified of flying or anything, just super curious about that particular flight. It was a Wizzair flight, the plane was Airbus but I don't remember which model.

  • $\begingroup$ Please edit to make the question in the title match the question in the body. The title question is "turbulence causing cabin lights/heat to go out" and the body question is "was this normal turbulence". $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 29 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan FWIW, the title was edited by non-OP. The original title was inline with the question body, although perhaps too generic. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Apr 29 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


Sounds like "one of those nights" when the state of the atmosphere & frontal boundaries just gives you a bunch of turbulence for the entire path of sky that your flight is using. Some days are like that -- it isn't common, but it happens.

Making the cabin cold is a known technique to help with airsickness. Warmer cabins make airsickness more pronounced, and colder cabins do the opposite. It isn't a perfect solution obviously, but it helps, and is definitely in the "you use the tools you have" category. As the saying goes, "popsicles don't puke"!

Haven't heard of darkening the cabin as a similar technique; it may be been a related thought, or perhaps just their procedures that when service is done and it's nighttime, turn the lights down so that those who want to sleep, can. Not that many people were likely able to do much of that in this case, from what it sounds like.

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    $\begingroup$ Far-fetched idea: lowering the cabin lighting allows passengers' eyes to adapt and maybe at least the people with window seats can see some orientation points on the horizon. From my own experience, being able to visually "anchor" yourself to the Earth helps me with motion sickness. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28 at 7:35
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    $\begingroup$ Isn’t turning the lights down part of some procedure, so that, in case of emergency, passengers’ sight will already be adjusted for the night? Same as for take off and landing – aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/8471/… $\endgroup$
    – Didier L
    Commented Apr 28 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ @DidierL This question is asking about the enroute portion of the flight; that question only validates a common practice of lowering the lights for dark-adaption at takeoff & landing. What JörgWMittag suggested may be what was the rationale here, but it's not a standard procedure. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Apr 28 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the insights, guys, much appreciated. I keep coming back to that particular flight because it was unlike anything I had experienced before (or since, for that matter) and I was curious if it sounds like a normal although less common situation or we might have been in some real trouble there (and if so, what kind). What you've commented makes sense (thanks for whoever moderated and updated the title, wasn't sure what to go with initially). $\endgroup$
    – Dixieland
    Commented Apr 28 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Dixieland Certainly not "real trouble" in the sense that the aircraft itself would be in danger. The airframe can handle much, much more turbulence than the fragile human cargo inside. Severe turbulence can be a safety issue in that somebody can get quite some bruises or even break an arm if they aren't properly strapped to their seat, but that's still far from snapping the wings off or so. If the flight was in real trouble, it would have diverted to a nearby airport instead of proceeding to your planned destination. $\endgroup$
    – TooTea
    Commented Apr 29 at 8:37

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