Contrails, Clouds Made by Airplanes

You have probably seen white trails left by airplanes in the clear blue sky. They are called contrails, short for “condensation trails.” Contrails are created only under certain conditions and even dubbed as a hygrometer in the sky. In this post, we will look at how contrails are created as well as environmental issues!

What are contrails?

Contrails, aka condensation trails, are a type of line-shaped clouds produced by aircraft engine exhaust, typically in a clear and cold sky. Contrails are created at a high altitude where droplets do not easily evaporate but freeze. They usually occur at high altitudes, usually above 8,000 m where the air temperature can reach below –38°C.

Contrails are generated for two reasons. The first factor is aircraft engine. Contrails are formed when hot exhaust gas from the engine meets cold air, creating water vapor in the form of ice crystals. As these water vapors must be rapidly frozen, contrails are caused only when aircrafts take flight at high speed in high altitude.

The second is aircraft wings. If you take a close look at aircrafts’ wings, you will notice curvature on the upper part. The curvature makes a difference in air velocity between the upper and lower parts of the wings. When the divided air reunites at the end of the wings, air pressure and temperature drop instantly. This is how water vapor rapidly freezes to create contrails.

The duration of contrails is influenced by altitude, temperature, vapor, sunlight, air pressure, and wind. They occur more often and visibly during winter when it is cold and humid.

Long-lasting contrails as signs of rain?

Then, how long can contrails last in the sky? Contrails disappear soon as the air becomes dry.

Just like how your laundry dries well in dry weather, water vapor scatters in the air quickly under dry atmospheric conditions. However, if the air is wet, contrails can last for more than an hour.

In this regard, contrails serve a function as a hygrometer in the sky. If you can see contrails for a long time in the sky, it is highly likely that it will rain.

Contrails and global warming

Recently, there have been studies on the effect of the aviation industry on global warming, which point out contrails as a contributor to global warming. A research team at Manchester Metropolitan University revealed that two thirds of the effect of the aviation industry on global warming from 1940 to 2018 come from contrails and carbon dioxide generated during flights.

It is because contrails formed in the sky prevent solar radiation from going back to space. Eventually, contrails cause a vicious cycle that accelerates global warming. While many different solutions are suggested, the most cost-effective way is to adjust the altitude for airplanes.

Civil engineering and environmental engineering teams at Imperial College London also published that decreasing 610 m in flight altitude makes a difference in the adverse effect of contrails. Isn’t it surprising while contrails do not have pollutants, they can accelerate global warming?

8 Priority Services in Incheon Airport

Incheon Airport is so vast that first-time visitors are often amazed by its size.

Incheon Airport provides priority services to those who find it difficult to move around. Today, we will look at what services are available at Incheon Airport, which declared “zero discomfort for people with reduced mobility!”

1) Far from the Info Desk? Use the Help Phone service!

While Incheon Airport has Info Desks here and there, they may feel very far away for those people with reduced mobility (PRMs). That’s why Incheon Airport has numerous Help Phone service spots available for them! You can get connected directly to the nearest Info Desk in the terminal just by picking up the phone. The easy-to-use Help Phone service provides convenience to all passengers!

If you find it difficult to use the Help Phone service, you can also use the SMS Consultation service. You can get a reply immediately by texting Incheon Airport’s Help Desk at 1577-2600.

2) From wheelchair and stroller rentals to braille brochures all at Incheon Airport’s Info Desk!

You can rent wheelchairs and strollers for free at every Info Desk in Incheon Airport. Also, braille brochures are available for people with visual impairments. Just ask for what you need at the Info Desk!

3) Accessible curbside and parking for PRMs

There are accessible curbside and parking spots for PRMs who visit Incheon Airport via car according to counters in the airport!

Accessible curbside is available in front of Terminal 1 (near Exits 3 and 12) and Terminal 2 (near Exits 2 and 7). Accessible parking is available here and there, so check out the following picture for locations! J

4) Valet parking for your convenience

Visitors can park more easily and safely by using Incheon Airport’s authorized paid valet parking services. Please note that discounts are provided to compact cars, people with disabilities, and people with national merits!

5) Wheelchair lift services for heavy wheelchairs!

Wheelchair lift services are available for free for wheelchair-bound visitors who find it difficult to get from Long-term Parking Lot to Passenger Terminal in Incheon Airport. Since you can use it only after making a reservation, please note the following contact information and available hours:

Contact: +82-32-741-3217

Hours: 9 AM–10 PM

Note: Reservations available only during weekdays prior to use to reduce call/service/wait hours


6) Electric cart pick-up services to chauffeur you to the boarding gate safely!

Incheon Airport provides chauffeur services for PRMs who find it difficult to get around the airport! You can use the chauffeur services by reserving it via Help Desk (1577-2600) before arriving at the airport or requesting via the Info Desk or Help Phone on the spot. We drive you in an electric cart safely from each entrance to your check-in counter in General Area on 3F and from each departure to your boarding gate in Duty-free Zone on 3F.

In addition to Incheon Airport’s pick-up services, you can use a separate mobility service depending on your airline. We recommend you to contact your airline since methods to use the service may be different depending on your airline!

7) Priority lane services for security and immigration checks all at once in a separate lane!

Many passengers find it exhausting to wait when there are long lines at security and immigration checks. Did you know that there is a lane prepared for PRMs to address such discomfort?

PRMs who can use the lane include people with disabilities in mobility, children under 7, seniors 70 and older, pregnant women, and people with weak physical conditions (those requiring wheelchairs or medical oxygen)! Up to 3 people accompanying a PRM can use the service.

Let’s take a look at the Priority Lane procedures!

1) During a check-in at the airport, confirm that you are eligible for the service and receive a Priority Card.

2) Present the Priority Card along with your passport/boarding pass to security staff at Priority Departure Entrance.

3) Go through security to immigration checks all at once and move on to your boarding gate.

Terminal 1

Exclusive Departures 1 and 6: 7 AM–10 AM

Side doors to Departures 2 to 5: Same hours as departures


Terminal 2

Departure 1: 6:30 AM–7 PM

Departure 2: 24/7

8) Special assistance for various one-stop services!

Two special assistance centers recently opened in Terminal 1 available for free before boarding your flight.

At the centers, you can use various one-stop services such as PRM-exclusive lounge, electric cart pick-up services, wheelchair/stroller rentals, and child safety wristbands, which is expected to greatly contribute to improving convenience for PRMs.

The centers are located at Departure Gates 25 and 29 in Terminal 1 and open from 8 AM to 10 PM. Remember that PRMs, including seniors of age 65 and older, people with disabilities, pregnant women and children, can use them for free!

In this post, we looked at Incheon Airport’s various services for PRMs. You can see how Incheon Airport strengthens its facilities and services for PRMs in line with its vision of a people-centered airport creating new values in life. Incheon Airport will continue to provide optimal services considering the circumstances of various passengers!