Unexpected Delay

The Trip from HEL (literally): On our way home for Christmas, 2016, our flight from Copenhagen to San Francisco was cancelled outright after we had already arrived in Copenhagen from Helsinki. We were rebooked — for more than a day later — and finally arrived home more than two full days after we'd left Helsinki — still missing a bag!

I was inspired during our unplanned stay in Copenhagen, and started Unexpected Delay as a way to visualize this information to better understand the necessary insanity that sometimes is international air travel. As we travel more around Europe, I plan on adding new charts and updating this one to reflect our travel realities. (Read on for the technical details).

Visualization Details

I chose to focus the visualization on the measurable effects of our trip: the length of the delay, the new flight routes, and the related consequences like lost baggage. I stripped all extraneous information out of the data and the map. 

Getting the map right was an important step. Because we're dealing with a pretty big horizontal swath of the globe, I used a Lambert conformal conic projection to minimize the exaggeration of the landmasses. The routes the flights trace around the globe are estimations, and I chose a gentle curve to mimic the curve of the earth.

Finally, I chose just a couple of colors to make it very clear which parts of the visualization were part of our planned travels (black) and which were decidedly unplanned (red).