135 votes
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What is this plane flying in overlapping circles pattern doing?

It's acting as a television broadcast relay for the 2020 Tour de Wallonie cycling race, taking place in Belgium from August 16 through August 19. The flight paths you posted correspond roughly to the ...
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130 votes
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Why do airlines follow these routes between Barcelona and Düsseldorf?

Large parts of France's airspace are designated military training areas. If there is military flight training going on, the choice of routing over France is very limited. The only option is to fly ...
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109 votes
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Why would a flight from North America to Asia sometimes fly over the Atlantic?

Those routes are extremely similar. They're basically two almost-a-straight-line routes over the arctic ocean, except that the second one has deviated a bit to the right, so that it's gone just on ...
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  • 1,353
90 votes

Why would a flight from North America to Asia sometimes fly over the Atlantic?

I took Hewgill's picture and added the routes in the OP (I just eyeballed this, so I won't guarantee accuracy). With the FlightAware maps it looks like drastically different routes, but from this ...
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87 votes

Why would a flight from North America to Asia sometimes fly over the Atlantic?

The direct route from YYZ to PEK flies almost over the north pole: Sometimes, routes need to deviate a bit from the "direct" route, due to prevailing winds or other traffic. If your route from YYZ ...
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74 votes
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Why do airliners hug the coast on flights?

The reason is that the aircraft has filed a route along airways and not a direct (great circle) route. In most countries, an IFR flight cannot just file a direct route and they have to use airways. An ...
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64 votes
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Where do I land if I fly from KLAX with a constant east heading, crossing the US and the Atlantic ocean?

If an aircraft is following a magnetic course changes in magnetic declination as the aircraft moves along its route of flight will affect the true course, and on a long flight such as the hypothetical ...
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  • 7,117
50 votes
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Why don't most planes fly in a straight path?

Short answer The routes on the screenshots are actually mostly straight. It's true aircraft routes are not always the shortest paths, because other considerations count too, e.g. weather and the ...
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43 votes

Why would an airliner make a 90° course change?

This answer assumes the manouevring was related to the Military training activities going on off-shore. While plausible, there is another plausible explanition in ymb1's answer. That was a British ...
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43 votes
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Why don't flights fly towards their landing approach path sooner?

In general, IFR flights through controlled airspace use airways (highways in the sky) to fly between waypoints. The particular flight you show looks like it arrived via the N774 airway to a waypoint ...
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42 votes
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Why are westbound transatlantic routes located hundreds of km away from eastbound routes?

The reason this is done is due to the winds aloft. The Jet Stream is a powerful current of air that blows in a west to east direction. Airplanes crossing the Atlantic from west to east take advantage ...
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42 votes
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Why would the Pakistan airspace closure cancel flights not headed to Pakistan itself?

To give an example of how flights can be affected by this in ways to make them impossible, Iranian airspace is closed from sunset to sunrise (unless things have changed recently). Any aircraft that ...
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41 votes

Why aren't there direct flights connecting Honolulu, Hawaii and London, UK?

Simply, because no airline has determined the route makes economic sense. A poll doesn't necessarily translate into a ready market of passengers. Sure, lots of people might check a box on a survey ...
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  • 8,248
36 votes

Why would a flight from North America to Asia sometimes fly over the Atlantic?

The flight did not fly across the Atlantic. Rather, you're seeing the results of stereographic projection. More specifically, the Earth is Spherical. Navigation needs to be thought of on the basis of ...
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34 votes
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Why would a flight no longer considered airworthy be redirected like this?

There could be a lot of reasons for this... EU closed airspace to 737's MAX 8's on March 12 They needed to go into a holding pattern until ATC figured out where to put them They needed to be in the ...
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29 votes

Why did my LGA-ORD flight make an S-shaped turn round the time it was passing a storm?

I find it hard to believe that this was a holding pattern of some sort. Believe it. An hour before landing would be about the point at which the aircraft will start its descent to its destination. ...
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28 votes

Why might this trans-pacific flight not follow a more direct route?

Looks like they were avoiding a storm system from Oregon north into Canada.
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26 votes
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Why aren't there direct flights connecting Honolulu, Hawaii and London, UK?

Hawaiian Airlines only recently started acquiring airplanes (A330-200) that are capable of that range. According to Wikipedia, London and Paris routes were discussed. On November 27, 2007, Hawaiian ...
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25 votes
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Why has flight UA106 such a strange predicted flight path?

As @mins suggested, it seems to be a wrong longitude of a waypoint in the Shannon Control area. I assume it is a hemisphere error (they used East instead of West). If the longitude of the waypoint is ...
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25 votes
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Why does Turkish Airlines avoid Israel when going to Amman, but not on the return leg?

There are no issues overflying Israel to Jordan: From the Israeli AIP: Prior permission is not required for commercial scheduled flights by aircraft registered in countries that are parties to the ...
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  • 119k
23 votes
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Why did this aircraft fly in this pattern over Southern Italy?

That flight pattern is almost certainly aerial surveying / mapping work and it's quite common all over the world. Companies like Google, Bing, etc pay for low to medium altitude photography and ...
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23 votes
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Why don't aircraft fly direct via oceanic airspace from UK to Iceland?

I don't think they are specifically avoiding Shanwick Oceanic airspace. The reason seems to be related to the airways in the Scottish airspace. In general, you have to file a route using airways when ...
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21 votes
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What are the benefits of long-haul airplanes servicing regional routes?

TL;DR You're confusing concepts, planes come in high/low capacity and range, routes come in high/low demand and long/short haul distances. A high capacity long range aircraft can operate very ...
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  • 10.3k
21 votes

Why did my LGA-ORD flight make an S-shaped turn round the time it was passing a storm?

Based on your provided flight info, I looked up the track history on flightradar and did see some potential traffic conflict that might have tempted the controller to route your plane that way. The ...
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  • 39.1k
20 votes

Why does Turkish Airlines avoid Israel when going to Amman, but not on the return leg?

I am not sure anybody but Turkish Airline's dispatcher can give the exact reason, but there is a couple of possible reasons that have nothing to do with politics or safety: The combination of ...
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19 votes
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How are airline pilots assigned routes? Are there easy and tough ones?

The answers to your questions vary greatly depending on the individual airline, type of equipment, what kind of flying they do, as well as contractual and union (if any) work rules. The one thing that ...
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  • 38.7k
18 votes
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Why didn't Air India always fly DEL-SFO over the Pacific?

(gcmap.com) Great circle route. The polar route is mostly over land and is in close proximity to airports and navigational aids. Flying over long stretches over water requires (among other things) ...
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  • 119k
18 votes

Why would the Pakistan airspace closure cancel flights not headed to Pakistan itself?

Not mentioned in the other answers is simply logistics coordination. If you can't fly over Pakistan, that suggests that maybe you have to fly somewhere else. Perhaps flying around means an ...
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  • 5,157
18 votes

Why would an airliner make a 90° course change?

I'd like to add to @DL's answer: Skipping further ahead in time, it wasn't a reroute out of a bottleneck, rather an introduced time delay. Either TBFM (Time Based Flow Management), or sector capacity ...
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  • 119k
18 votes

Why don't most planes fly in a straight path?

That is a straight path. It is the map projection being used that is curved. This is because Earth is a round planet, not a flat surface, and creating accurate maps have always been a problem. Take a ...
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