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I'll be flying in the next few days and I'm really concerned about the potentially dangerous territories my flight might be crossing. In this case, I'll be travelling from Singapore to Switzerland and I'm worried about flying over Iraq and Syria. How can I find out what route my flight will take?

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    In general, question about "does my flight do this?" can only be answered if you say exactly what the flight is! Fortunately, in this case, there's an answer of the form "Here's how you can find out for yourself", which Berwyn has posted. I've rewritten your question to be more generic -- I hope that's OK! – David Richerby Jun 2 '16 at 8:56
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    Define "potentially dangerous territories" and then ask why your definition of what is a "potentially dangerous territory" differs from the airlines' and regulatory authorities definition of the same. The simple — and obvious — answer is: your flight will not be crossing dangerous territories because airlines do not want to put their passengers at risk. – MichaelK Jun 2 '16 at 10:47
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    See travel.stackexchange.com/questions/57414/… and travel.stackexchange.com/questions/46149/… for some relevant discussion. – Relaxed Jun 2 '16 at 10:57
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    @Michael_Karnerfors Sadly your simple answer is simply wrong, as the shot-down-MH17 proved. Two years after this disaster, airlines still fly over conflictzones and even in The Netherlands, were most victims came from, there is still no information exchange between security services and Airlines. Article Dutch national News service – RHA Jun 2 '16 at 11:48
  • @MichaelKarnerfors The term "potentially dangerous territories" was introduced by my edit but it doesn't actually matter what it means. If you want to interpret it as "How can I find out if my flight will cross countries where people eat candyfloss?", the question doesn't actually change. – David Richerby Jun 3 '16 at 12:57
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You can view the path for a specific flight on Flightradar24. Here's the flightpath for yesterday's SQ346 SIN-ZRH

Flight path SQ346

If you wish to look up which flights there are from a given origin to a given destination you can use Flightstats. Note that any flight may have to change route for one reason or another, but you will be able to see from the history how likely this is.

Updated following Jan's helpful answer and David's comment. To see the Great Circle route that would typically be followed in the absence of any other air traffic or weather restrictions, you can enter the origin and destination airport on the Great Circle Mapper website and would see this route:

gcmap.com image

From the difference between the two images you can deduce the countries that the airline is particularly attempting to avoid or does not have permission to overfly.

Update: The FAA provides the following map of countries to avoid overflying: https://newrepublic.com/article/118764/map-faa-tells-airlines-avoid-flying-over-these-countries (may be out of date).

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    Comparing the great circle route to the actual route, I'd say they flew the GCR with minor variations for weather and/or traffic and a detour around Russia – FreeMan Jun 2 '16 at 12:43
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    "From the difference between the two images you can deduce the countries that the airline is particularly attempting to avoid or does not have permission to overfly." The route tells you where they flew, not why. In particular, routes can vary dramatically from day to day, even over friendly territory. For example, I was recently looking at a particular flight from SFO to LHR which would fly close to the great circle on some days but fly close to the Great Lakes on other days. – David Richerby Jun 2 '16 at 12:49
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    I did say it could help you deduce it. Especially if the flight makes an otherwise inexplicable deviation from a certain country. Updated the answer with a link to an article about FAA NOTAMs. – Berwyn Jun 2 '16 at 13:04
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    It's pretty obvious they're avoiding being anywhere near Ukraine, after the whole MH17 thing. – Stop Harming Monica Jun 2 '16 at 14:40
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    @Gnubie While route does depend on weather, looking at the previous day's route is usually a pretty good approximation of what you'll get. Looking at the last several days can also give you a good idea of what kind of variation is typical. At any rate, if a route makes it obvious that a particular area is being intentionally avoided, that's unlikely to change from day to day. – reirab Jun 2 '16 at 18:06
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Flights will usually take a ‘curved’ route when viewed on a flat map with more horizontal streches in northern latitudes due to the ellipsoid shape of the Earth. That’s why the map Berwyn supplied also shows this ‘bent’ route rather than the seemingly direct straight line.

Also, flights typically do not cross areas with severe crises. In 2014, many airlines were already circumventing Ukraine. It became apparant why when the Malaysian Airlines aeroplane was shot down in the summer. That airline was actually one of the few still flying over the country in spite of safety concerns. So even if you are taking a route that might bring you across the areas in Syria/Iraq that IS controls, many carriers will purposely detour around these areas (and around the Sinai, in case you were wondering). Note how KLM flight Amsterdam–Singapore also detours around the Ukraine.

With the reputation Singapore Airlines has, they will likely be among the first to avoid critical areas.

  • These curved routes are called great circles and you can see them at the Great Circle Mapper. That site shows the route your flight would take if flying the shortest distance was the only concern. (Which it isn't: war zones, prevailing winds, designated air lanes and the need to stay close enough to airports in case of emergencies can all cause airlines to use longer routes. I was quite surprised how closely the Singapore-Zurich route actually follows the great circle, in this case.) – David Richerby Jun 2 '16 at 9:11
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    Hi Jan, David. Hope you don't mind I incorporated gcmap into my answer. I think it's useful to show the two images together. – Berwyn Jun 2 '16 at 9:30
  • @Berwyn No worries ;) – Jan Jun 2 '16 at 11:43
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    @Jan I rather doubt Airbus would turn down a launch customer who was willing to commit to buy enough airplanes. That said, Singapore Airlines does indeed have a very good reputation, but lots of airlines with good reputations were flying through that airspace at the time of the MH17 shootdown, including Singapore, Lufthansa, and Emirates, though several others were avoiding it. – reirab Jun 2 '16 at 18:16
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    @Random832 interesting question. Perhaps ask as a new question so people see it? – Berwyn Jun 3 '16 at 8:37

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