I want to plan a flight from KMSN - KDAY. My plan avoids the ORD airspace as much as possible, so something like:


What would be the phraseology to use to get VFR flight following to let ATC that I'm not planning the most direct route?

  • $\begingroup$ You should file a flight plan and open it with FSS (or via an app). You can request VFR flight following which will provide radar services (if available, you may not get it, be aware). You should just have to tell ATC where you are heading, not that you necessarily need to land there. Hopefully one of the ATC controllers on here can pipe in on this for you. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Feb 1 '18 at 21:10

I have actually been in this situation a few times locally as I fly in and around the Philadelphia Bravo and usually take flight following for the advisories and incase I want a bravo transition.

Its important to note that flight following does not mean you are on an IFR flight plan or that you are under ATC vectors it simply means that ATC will give you advisories (mainly traffic and often weather when applicable). Technically you are free to fly around at your discretion (within the limitations of the airspace and regulations of course).

To request flight following in this case you can say

... Requesting flight following to KDAY via EON

This provides enough information for them and the note that you will be taking a non direct course.

Since you are not requesting a Bravo clearance in your case its assumed you will go around (or fly under the shelf) and could potentially state only your destination. On light load days if in the system in the Philly area controllers will even warn you of the bravo if you have not requested clearance or are planning to fly under the shelf.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks; sounds like you’ve done essentially this. I realize that VFR flight following is at the discretion of the controllers along the way. I usually get FF when I go, but I’ve also gotten questioned when I’m not following the most direct route. $\endgroup$ – Jim Jarrett Feb 2 '18 at 23:49
  • $\begingroup$ I have done it many times, I also often, out of habit, request altitude changes when on FF only to be reminded by the controller "you are VFR altitude at your discretion" $\endgroup$ – Dave Feb 3 '18 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ Approach may assume you want a Class B/C transition if that's the most direct route to your stated destination, especially if you're headed directly at the boundary. +1 for "via" as a way of telling them concisely in advance not to assume that, which avoids annoying them and getting a "say intentions" request. Annoying someone who gives service at their discretion is unwise. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Dec 4 '18 at 22:04

I would make the request as:

(controller) "N12345, Say your request"
(you) "N12345 request VFR Flight Following from Madison via the Joliet VOR to Cox Dayton; Altitude 5,500"

I don't think all the intermediate points matter, and I think the controller will quickly figure out what you intend.

They may ask for some clarifications, such as:

  • "Say your equipment"
    (they're asking if you have a Mode C transponder)
  • "Spell waypoints"
    (they want the phonetic alphabet of your waypoints because they are unsure)
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  • $\begingroup$ Who exactly are you talking to in your last example? As far as I know, ATC never sees VFR flight plans. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Feb 1 '18 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ (I'm not 100% sure) I believe that ATC (if not too busy) can open your plan for you, see your filed route, and start FF based on your plan. They won't see it unless you ask, but they can pull it up. $\endgroup$ – abelenky Feb 1 '18 at 21:54
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    $\begingroup$ See this answer; in the linked video a controller says they don't have flight plans "in our system" but I guess they can get access somehow if they have an urgent need $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Feb 1 '18 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ (Removed the last example) $\endgroup$ – abelenky Feb 1 '18 at 22:07

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