AMS-NRT flight path

Old Oct 19, 2023, 9:09 am
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AMS-NRT flight path

Is FlightRadar showing the correct flight paths to and from Tokyo?
KLM 863 AMS-NRT shows a expected Easterly flight path over Europe and central Asia towards Japan.
But KLM 864 NRT-AMS shows an unexpected Easterly flight path over Alaska and northern Canada towards Europe.
I would expect the return leg to be the opposite of the outward leg.
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Old Oct 19, 2023, 9:37 am
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Originally Posted by mikem004
Is FlightRadar showing the correct flight paths to and from Tokyo?
Yes usually , and if available

Originally Posted by mikem004
I would expect the return leg to be the opposite of the outward leg
Its a bit more complex than you going to work ; but in a nutshell and based on what i know ; its based on lot of factors = politics , money , weather , loads , etc .... so there is most likely a logical reason for what you saw but i cant give specific answer

Last edited by fifty_two; Oct 19, 2023 at 10:08 am
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Old Oct 19, 2023, 10:02 am
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Originally Posted by mikem004
Is FlightRadar showing the correct flight paths to and from Tokyo?
KLM 863 AMS-NRT shows a expected Easterly flight path over Europe and central Asia towards Japan.
FR24 shows routes flown; it doesn't show planned/expected routes for future flights.
(Though I think when you say "expected" here, you are instead referring to the routing that you yourself expected to see).

You're thinking in flat 2D terms, when instead the shortest (great-circle) route is a north-easterly one; up over Scandinavia and Siberia. No way you would you normally want to fly over non-Scandinavian Europe, or Central Asia.

You expect an eastbound route, because you're thinking of a projection onto a 2D plane - the way it is presented to you on a flat sheet of paper.

Originally Posted by mikem004
But KLM 864 NRT-AMS shows an unexpected Easterly flight path over Alaska and northern Canada towards Europe.
I would expect the return leg to be the opposite of the outward leg.
Hopefully the map below will show you that it's not so "unexpected". Remember that Russia cannot currently be overflown, so the plane will have to avoid Russia by skirting its southernmost tip (which makes it conform to your "expected" Eastbound routing), or by skirting its easternmost extremity, Cape Dezhnyov, almost to Alaska and then over the pole. Which routing will be allotted for which direction will depend on weather and other factors on the day. Both routings represent a considerable (but necessary) diversion from the shortest possible route. The more northern routing is slightly longer - remember that in this view, the "southern" routing is much longer than it looks on this represenation - but either may be faster (and therefore preferable), based on tailwinds and the jetstream. You'll always want to fly with a tailwind, where possible; hence when there is a big obstacle en-route - Russia - you'll take the longer route that is more favourable on the day based on weather conditions and winds.
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Last edited by irishguy28; Oct 19, 2023 at 10:15 am
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Old Oct 19, 2023, 10:36 am
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Any implications on crossing the International Date Line when heading East from Tokyo to Amsterdam?
Will I gain or lose extra time, compared to heading West?
I will have to get a piece of paper and try to work this out!

Surely KLM have a schedule to keep to, so can't make on-the-day decisions whether to head East or West? The arrival time at AMS may differ significantly.
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Old Oct 19, 2023, 10:55 am
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KL863 AMS-NRT on OCT18 flew 11,834km for 13h6m.
KL864 NRT-AMS on OCT19 flew 11,992km for 13h36m.

Not much difference in terms of distance and time.
With the tail wind flying eastward, less fuel would be used as well.

For reference, KL868 ICN-AMS on OCT17 flew 10,405km westward for 13h25m.
The arrival time whether flying east or west will not differ much.

SQ23 and SQ24 between SIN and JFK and vice versa both always fly eastward as well.
For such long routes, it is almost always more cost effective to fly east, especially during winter.
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Old Oct 19, 2023, 11:33 am
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Not the greatest images, but the best I could quickly find that sort of show what the wind at altitude does... if you know how to read them you will see, that the winds at altitude are basicaly going west to east. So at routes which are close enough to ending up at the other side of the world, it's good do make use of them and fly east in both directions.



Important remark - Example routing for NRT-AMS only! Not actual flight routing!



Important remark - Example routing for NRT-AMS only! Not actual flight routing!

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Old Oct 19, 2023, 12:38 pm
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Originally Posted by mikem004
Any implications on crossing the International Date Line when heading East from Tokyo to Amsterdam?
Will I gain or lose extra time, compared to heading West?
I will have to get a piece of paper and try to work this out!

Surely KLM have a schedule to keep to, so can't make on-the-day decisions whether to head East or West? The arrival time at AMS may differ significantly.
No, it won't. The time difference between Amsterdam and Tokyo is static. The only thing that matters is how much time in the air it takes you to get there, which happens to be very similar for both options.
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Old Oct 19, 2023, 1:10 pm
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Thanks for the replies. I will find out in late November when I fly the return leg from Tokyo.
However, I recall flying KIX-AMS and ICN-AMS in the past and we did not head East over North America. But Russian airspace was open in those days...
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Old Oct 19, 2023, 1:22 pm
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The shortest route to both KIX and ICN from AMS is over Russia. Since that is not currently an option (thanks, putin), an alternative route is necessary. There happens to be more than one of those that are roughly equal, and which is used depends on weather conditions.
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Old Oct 24, 2023, 5:52 am
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I was due to fly HKG LHR MAN some years ago on CX.BA . Flight got cancelled and was put on a direct flight to Helsinki and then to MAN and got to my destination at almost the same time due to going over the N Pole.
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Old Oct 24, 2023, 1:32 pm
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Greetings from KL863 where we are indeed taking the eastern route to Tokyo and estimating 12 hours 50 mins.
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Old Oct 25, 2023, 11:38 am
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Originally Posted by KLMkitty
Greetings from KL863 where we are indeed taking the eastern route to Tokyo and estimating 12 hours 50 mins.
Konnichiwa! Let us know which route you take on the way back. Have a good trip.
I see you are travelling in a 789. My trip in November looks like it will be in a 777, going by the seating plan...old fashioned business class seats.
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Old Oct 28, 2023, 1:14 pm
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Originally Posted by mikem004
Konnichiwa! Let us know which route you take on the way back. Have a good trip.
I see you are travelling in a 789. My trip in November looks like it will be in a 777, going by the seating plan...old fashioned business class seats.
Konnichiwa! Arigato and I will do.

Anyone know why todays KL863 turned back to Amsterdam?
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Old Oct 29, 2023, 6:17 am
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Originally Posted by KLMkitty
Konnichiwa! Arigato and I will do.

Anyone know why today’s KL863 turned back to Amsterdam?
It seems to have reached the Istanbul/Black Sea area then returned to AMS.
I haven't seen any explanations for the aborted flight.

KLM864, today's NRT-AMS flight has been cancelled.

Last edited by mikem004; Oct 29, 2023 at 6:45 am
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Old Nov 2, 2023, 9:28 am
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[QUOTE=KLMkitty;35701179]Konnichiwa! Arigato and I will do.

I flew back last night on AF293 from Haneda to CDG. I'd been tracking it, and AF281 and KL861 all week and they were always taking the pacific/polar route. My flight, however, returned via the same route than I went out on KL, over South Korea, China, Azerbaijan and europe. The captain explained that we were taking this more southerly roue due to the war in Ukraine but didn't say why we wouldn't take the polar route. It took in excess of 15 hours and we arrived in CDG an hour late despite an on time departure. I was pleased I'd accepted the discounted club upgrade at check-in as it was such a long flight.

Unfortunately, we arrived into very strong wind at CDG which caused further delays in disembarking and I missed my connecting flight back to EDI. Now waiting 10 hours for the next flight.
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