I recently flew from Abu Dhabi to Beirut and I was intrigued by the flight route. Instead of simply avoiding Syrian airspace (as would be expected) and flying across KSA, Jordan and Israel, we flew almost to Alexandria in Egypt before hanging a big right and approaching Beirut from over the Mediterranean. Before the Syrian war the flight used to take 3.5 hours, now it's more like 5 hours. Can someone explain to me why the flight took this route? Is it because Sinai is now considered a no-go zone? If so why not fly over Israel? Is this because it's not allowed? I'm curious!

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs to Aviation.SE. – JonathanReez Jul 8 '16 at 10:30
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    What's off-topic about it? It's about a flight route that takes 90 mins more than it used to. This site is about travel and this is a direct travel-related question. I'm sure I'm not the only traveller out there that is curious about this flight route. – Billy Jul 8 '16 at 10:49
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    It's very difficult or impossible for us to answer inside baseball questions about aviation here. That's one reason why there is a dedicated Aviation site. – Michael Hampton Jul 8 '16 at 16:36

The Great Circle route from AUH to BEY looks like this:

enter image description here

Flying over Syrian territory is out of the question at the moment, so there are three alternatives:

  1. Fly around via Jordan and Israel. This is impossible because of the Arab League Boycott of Israel. Israeli planes are not allowed to fly in the Arabic peninsula and vice-versa.
  2. Fly around via Iran and Turkey. This is the longest option
  3. Fly around via Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This is what your airline ended up doing.
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It seems you flew Etihad, because MEA (Middle East Airlines) takes a more direct route:

enter image description here

Compare that to this:

enter image description here

(the above images are from the excellent http://flighaware.com)

Each airline is free to chose their own routing - almost most try to fly on established routes (since these have the most radar coverage); but as shown above each airline is free to decide the best routing for their aircraft.

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  • Note that the gray part of the line on the FlightAware represents an area where the site doesn't have complete data and extrapolated. The actual flight path between the green segments may differ (e.g. the Ethiad flight probably farther south and didn't really overfly the southern tip of Israel). – Zach Lipton Jul 11 '16 at 5:10
  • Well they cut it pretty close on a few of their flights. – Burhan Khalid Jul 11 '16 at 5:15
  • They cut it close there but then go all the way around to Cairo. I suppose Egypt may have a lot of restricted airspace that limits their routing options there. – Zach Lipton Jul 11 '16 at 5:20

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