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I once had a traffic controller give me a hard time about how I requested IFR clearance once in the air. I had previously filed an IFR flight plan, and took off from my untowered home airport. On approach control's frequency, I said:

Tampa Approach, Cirrus 123AB, 5 miles southeast of Tampa Exec at 1000 feet, IFR to Ft. Lauderdale Exec

The approach controller responded, annoyed, saying something like "Well do you have an IFR flight plan or are you reporting IFR??"

I had always used that phraseology because it seems the least wordy way to get the info across, which can be helpful when the freq is busy. What is the technically correct way to get an IFR clearance on an existing IFR flight plan?

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Looks like you generally omit a key word, request". Just make it request IFR to FXE. – slookabill Feb 19 '15 at 11:12
up vote 16 down vote accepted

There is one example in the AIM used for transitioning from VFR to IFR, and it how I've always done it:

AIM 5-2-5. Abbreviated IFR Departure Clearance (Cleared. . .as Filed) Procedures

"Los Angeles center, Apache Six One Papa, VFR estimating Paso Robles VOR at three two, one thousand five hundred, request IFR to Bakersfield."

Notice that they specifically say "VFR" right before their current location and also use the word "request" to make it clear what they are looking for. I would change your request to:

Tampa Approach, Cirrus 123AB, VFR 5 miles southeast of Tampa Exec at 1000 feet, request IFR to Ft. Lauderdale Exec

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You might want to make it clear that you have an IFR flight plan on file - e.g. "..., request IFR as filed to <dest>" or "..., IFR request, on file, to <dest>" – sdtom Mar 6 '14 at 23:18
@sdtom You can do that if you like, but it would be non-standard. This is right from the AIM. :) – Lnafziger Mar 6 '14 at 23:20
For the last part, i've always said "...Would like to pick up our clearance to Ft Lauderdale Exec" so he knows the flight plan is already filed and this is not a pop-up request. – rbp Feb 7 '15 at 19:24
also, the "VFR" portion is to reduce controller workload, so he not wondering where the hell did this airplane come from and why doesnt he have it on his screen and where is the ticket – rbp Feb 7 '15 at 19:42

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