I have just booked a last minute trip to Dubai without really considering the safety implications of travelling to the UAE at the moment. I am particular concerned (as I am a nervous flyer) about the flight routes which either go over Iran or Iraq. Having done some research there seems to be restrictions on flying at lower levels but not high altitudes. Is someone able to explain this a bit more and give me an idea of the actual level of risk?
If you look at FlightRadar24 or other similar sites you’ll see that there are literally hundreds of flights using those corridors every single day.
Iran definitely isn’t an active war zone and there are no active armed rebellions in the country. While there is sporadic activity in some parts of Iraq, those are quite far from the routes followed by aircraft.
Airlines have learned their lesson from MH17 and generally avoid any risky areas. Again, if you look at FR24, you’ll notice a big empty area above Ukraine and neighbouring regions, as well as above most of Syria, Afghanistan or Yemen, but tons of traffic over Iran and Iraq. That shows the risk is extremely low there.
Airliner shoot-down incidents in general are very rare and shootdowns of jet airliners in cruise are even rarer. As far as I can tell, in the last 20 years only a single jet airliner has been shot down while in cruise flight.
Countries dealing with insurgencies will generally have a pretty good idea of what weapon systems the insurgents will have and what the capabilities of those weapon systems are. Hitting airliners at cruise altitudes requires serious weapon systems that few insurgencies possess.