I'll start off by letting you all know that I am 100% blind, so I won't be able to read a map.

My friend Hudson came over to Canada with her friends last year, September 1 or August 31, 2016.

She likes to check where she's at once in a while when flying. She said it was an Air Transat Airbus 330-200. She doesn't remember the flight number, but it was probably TSC-285 or TSC-255.

Anyway, when she flew from Manchester (EGCC) to Vancouver (CYVR), she said "(laughs), Ann was out like a light when we flew over the Scandinavian countries." How on earth does this work? I may be blind, but I do know that Vancouver is southwest of Manchester, and the Scandinavian countries are northeast of Manchester.

My question is, why would they fly over Norway, Sweden and Denmark when that is the opposite way to Vancouver? I'd love for an explanation please.


If you explain the route i.e. "she went north over x, then headed west and flew over by y" that would help, though it's not a requirement. It is guessing after all considering she may have taken off northeast or southeast from EGCC.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes she said they flew over the scandinavian countries while going form Manchester to Vancouver. $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2017 at 4:22
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    $\begingroup$ Are you sure she isn't including Iceland in that bin of "Scandanavian countries", or the fact that Greenland is run by Denmark? $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2017 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ Alls she said was the Scandanavian countries. and why would she go over greenland or iceland? Vancouver is southwest of manchester, at around 49 degrees North lat while Manchester is about 53 degrees North. $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2017 at 4:33
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    $\begingroup$ As to Greenland & Iceland -- the answer has to do with great circles as we live on a round planet, not a flat pancake :) $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2017 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ She may have been referring to greenland or Iceland, still, would there be a doable route to Vancouver flying over Norway, Sweden or Denmark? and then there's still the track southwest from greenland, accross Canada and to the west coast. (sorry if i'm being an idiot) $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2017 at 4:40

1 Answer 1


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Above is the shortest route, it's called a great circle route. This is what airlines try to follow as much as possible.

The possibilities:

  1. They've mistaken the icy parts of Greenland and northern Canada for the Scandinavian countries1

  2. They've mistaken the western Scottish fjords for Scandinavian fjords

  3. They need new maps :)

On a great circle route, like a taut thread over a ball, the bearing changes. Roughly it'll be something like this:

Initial heading of NW for 1,000 nautical miles, WNW for another 1,000, then West for 2,700. That's a very rough visualization, because again along the route the heading changes, just like the thread.

The route takes you along the western coast of Scotland, across the Atlantic, passing over Iceland, then Greenland, then Canada, where Vancouver is.

1 Denmark, Norway, and Sweden compose Scandinavia according to the normal definition.

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    $\begingroup$ thanks. I know someone above theorized that Hudson could be referring to Greenland as a "scandinavian country". she is a viking fanatic. maybe she needed to clairify her terminology. thanks. $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2017 at 6:01
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder if this is also to do with Polar routes? Wikipedia says that some trans-continental flights use the arctic circle for some routes. $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2017 at 6:22
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    $\begingroup$ @TheCat-alyst, yes, that's the same thing. The Earth is a sphere, not a cylinder. On a sphere, you get shortest path when you intersect it with a plane that passes the two points and the centre. That means that when you are connecting two points on the north hemisphere, the route is going to take you further north and on south hemisphere it's going to take you further south. The effect is more pronounced when the points are further apart, so for points at about opposite longitudes (e.g. New York-Beijing) it will take you almost over the pole. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Feb 14, 2017 at 7:16
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    $\begingroup$ Also, the flight might have diverted further north to avoid the strong west wind of the Jet stream. That would mean departing about north, following coast of Norway for a while before turning north-west over Atlantic. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Feb 14, 2017 at 7:21
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    $\begingroup$ @JanHudec But "about north" from Manchester goes nowhere near Norway. To reach Norway, you'd have to fly more than 600km east of due north. $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2017 at 9:22

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