How often do planes refuel? Are airlines prepared to deal with a lithium battery fire on board?

How often do planes fuel up? And how many trips can they fly before refueling the plane? 

– Larry, Nashville

It varies by the type of airplane and the distance flown. Normally, an airplane will fuel when it lands. However, if fuel is expensive, it may be possible to avoid fueling at an airport by carrying extra fuel on the inbound flight. This is known as tankering. 

Many airplanes can carry several hours of fuel, but will not fill up as the additional weight of the fuel causes an increase in the fuel burn. 

So there is not a simple answer to your question. If the flight is a long transoceanic flight, the airplane will refuel when it lands. If the flight is short, then it is possible that the price of the fuel will determine whether and where fueling is done.

As an example, if an airplane departs Charlotte, North Carolina, for New York and plans to fly on to Providence, Rhode Island, the price of fuel in New York may be the deciding factor in opting to carry enough fuel to fly both flights. 

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