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Too Hot to Fly in Phoenix

Did you know that it can be too hot to fly?

Extreme heat causes changes in air density that make it difficult for planes—especially small ones—to take off. 

Travelers are learning that little science lesson this week in Arizona, where a heat wave with temperatures that could reach 120 degrees forced American Airlines to cancel about 50 flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Tuesday.

Small regional jets were affected by the decision. Their maximum operating temperatures are slightly lower than those of full-size aircraft.

As temperatures around the globe are expected to continue climbing in upcoming decades, these sorts of travel disruptions could become increasingly common.