Cleared as filed? Maybe not.


I was flying from an Austin-area airport to a Houston-area airport a few weeks ago and filed “direct (vor) direct.” I was suprised when I was “cleared as filed” out of the Austin area since I had never received my requested routing flying in or out of the Houston terminal area before.

All was well as I was flying my route (as filed) until I was approaching the Houston terminal area and houston approach asked, “are you direct JAYJO?”

“my clearance was direct (vor) direct,” I replied.

“Umm, okay, ah, turn left 070, direct JAYJO when able, join the BLUBL2 arrival.”

I wondered if this was a misunderstanding in Austin about what I had filed or a change in routing. When I got back home, I hopped on FlightAware and sure enough – my original clearance included the BLUBL2 arrival.

Anyone know how clearance delivery knows what you filed vs what was assigned & approved?


Try posting your question on rec.aviation.ifr


The short answer is the controller is required to read any routing between the plus signs on your flight progress strip.

The long answer is depending on the time of day or especially night, type of equipment has a lot to do with how routing is changed. If the flight is a tower en route or goes into center airspace determines who is responsible for changing the requested flight route to something that adheres to established exit fixes and arrival fixes between adjacent facilities. If the aircraft is a “really” high performance jet and it is between midnight and 6 AM, direct direct direct is possible.

Hope that this answers your question.

I am a new member who is an ATCS 23 years NY TRACON LGA sector getting ready to retire.


If you filed with CSC DUATS, I’m not suprised. This same thing has happened to me (and my coworkers) while using CSC DUATS on several occasions. Every time I’ve called CSC to find out why this happened, I hear a different excuse, but CSC always blames the pilots. I’ve been flying uder IFR professionally since before the DUAT system was even implemented, and was one of the first registered users once it became available. I am quite sure I know how to file a flight plan. CSC DUATS will adjust your flight plan as they see fit, (which is what CSC told me during one phone call) including the routing, without any notification to the pilot, even though their system accepts your flight plan and indicates that it will be filed. This is a violation waiting to happen, and all pilots should beware. I will not use or recommend CSC DUATS for filing flight plans unless there are no other means available.


You probably can expect more problems like this when Lockheed takes over the Flight Service funciton of processing flight plans.

I strongly suggest that you file a NASA report anytime you encounter a problem with ATC. The form is sent to FAA HQ, then Regional HQ, then the facility. The facility Quality Assurance has to investigate and explain what happened and provide a solution to any inherent systems problems.


Yes, it was with CSC DUATS – and that’s so odd. I often print out the page that lists all your flight plans so that I remember what my routing, altitude, and enroute time were. It had never occured to me that “as filed” could be different from what I specified.

I agree that it should either reject the routing immediately or accept and pass of a bogus/unacceptable routing rather than doing anything to it behind your back. The outcome could definitely be a lot worse than just a violation in a lot of scenarios.

What do you use to file? Is (no s) any better?


DTC DUAT has been very reliable for me, as has (do not use their CSC DUATS option for filing). I have been using both companies to file flight plans for years now, and have not encountered any problems with either one.



Don’t worry about it, it happens all the time. I see your point about maybe hitting a mountain or something, but then again if you filed a plan that wouldn’t hit one in the first place you would have been fine. The short of it is that we get rerouted a lot and it isn’t unusual. It is common for me to come into Tampa from the north toward PIE (given from JAX) and then when Tampa gets ahold of me they send me toward Brandon (the east side of Tampa, opposite where JAX sent me). If JAX had sent me that way to begin with it would save me about 15 minutes in the air.

More of a direct example, flying into Atlanta it is common to be cleared to my destination direct (as filed) and then get rerouted when I get closer.



Hi, Fred. I’m used to getting re-routed, sometimes many, many times in flight. The concern here is very different – it’s being “cleared as filed” and it turns out that your clearance is, in fact, not what you filed. The only way this will be resolved (unless you get a re-route mid-flight) is when you turn the wrong way and they notice it. This could lead to a lot of confusion or worse, a traffic conflict, if you’re unlucky or if the controller is busy.


I know it sounds silly as a title, but when flying from SC to CT my home airport is IJD in eastern CT. It is technically in Bradley Approach airspace but the approaches are in PVD airspace - except for the GPS 09.

My Viking is /G so I used to file CHS ISO ATR V1 JFK V229 HFD which is almost a great circle route from 73J - only 6 miles further than great circile. I ROUTINELY could get a ‘cleared a filed’ clearance at 11 or 15k depending on the winds and Beaufort approach would always cleared as filed when I got the clearance and as I flew North either McGuire or Atl Cty approach would give me the NYC shuffle: descend to 5000, after JFK V229 PUGGS Madison, Groton Norwich direct. Turning a straight line into the right angles of a triangle - often dropping my speed from 180-200kts of ground speed into 140 or so - often necessitating a fuel stop.

When possible, I’d run the trip at FL190 - which gets me into Center airspace [NY approach appears to own the airspace up to FL180 instead of the usual 10000]. But if I was low on O2 for 3 people for the whole trip and fuel was an issue, then I’d hope for VFR up north since then I could cancel - NY approach does NOT allow VFR on top.

The altitude ‘game’ does not help the issue of NY wanting me to fly the sides of the triangle instead of the hypotenuse - this led to another ‘game’ I play. NY approach’s usual routing adds 50 miles to my trip with only 96 miles to go as I go over JFK - fuel is always an issue at this point and if I tell them that the requested routing causes me to call minimum fuel = they just tell me to land for gas. So, I dispatch to BDL instead of my destination, using my real destination as the alternate, and their informal, unpublished TEC routing for single engine [even about 15000!!!] from JFK to BDL is my orignally requested routing of JFK V229 HFD or JFK MAD then the STAR. BDL could care less once I’m in their airspace and I went to talk to the supervisors one day so they’ll understand why I am doing what I am doing.

Now, a single engine at 14-17k is NOT in anybodys way - the jets are either above or below around and NE of JFK on the airway and the King Airs are in the low 20’s - this airspace is completely empty most of time yet they refuse to work it.

I have called NY approach and tried to figure out what altitude I should file to avoid the reroute or to avoid the descent to 5000 and no one will tell me what the letter agreements between center and approach say, and NY being NY no one is especially helpful and really do not want to help when I call to ask questions. They want me to fit into their system and my airplane is not the ‘normal’ single engine since I’m turbocharged and routinely go to FL200 [my personal max]. I have put “FL220 capable - turbocharged” in the remarks section and all it does is generate questions from controllers. I tell the NY controllers why it is there and they go - oh yeah, we don’t need you to come down then, after they started me down. It is very frustrating.

The only other alternative is the routing 40 miles off the coast and I will fly that if I’m REALLY high, and it is summer or early fall and the water is warm and I can glide to within a mile or two of shore in a total emergency.

I guess my ultimate point is that if you have a long trip you need to study the TEC and preferred routes for your type aircraft and understand that while your dispatching approach control may tell you ‘cleared as filed,’ you may not get it when you get to your destination if you are going over a busy Bravo airspace enroute to your destination and they have a TEC or preferred routing - it can be a surprise and a challenge finding the routing in the cockpit during a descent - esp. at night. Easier with /G to enter the fix and fly to it, but then entering the rest of the routing can still be a challenge.

Also - does anyone know where to get the letter agreements so you can figure out for yourself how to make them work for you?


I suppose that you can request a full route clearance, or readback the route you filed. That would eliminate any guessing on your part which “as filed” you were cleared via.


My understanding is that the controller is supposed to read the routing to you when you originally contacted them as cleared to _ airport via as filed. This form of clearance is intended to prevent exactly what happened. While this could still end up with a different plan then what you filed, at least it ensures that the intial fix matches what you expected.


It’s a grand idea…The “East Coast Plan”…Welcome to the north-east.

Jacksonville Center will not re-route you off the ground, it’s not their job, as long as your pointed in the right direction, you can have pretty much anything you want until you get up to Kinston in Washington.


Anyone using DTC DUAT should print off the “filed flight plan” and keep it until the flight has been completed. If there are any glitches the transmission record number combined with the recording of your clearance from your departure airport will protect you in the event of a discrepency. You are however required to fly the route you have filed. In our case we file almost exclusively “direct” and then just be ready to get a revised routing down the line. The main thing to remember is don’t argue with the controllers if they have to reroute you. They are only doing their job and they aren’t out to make your day harder than it already is. I have found that if I accept the deviation and then end the readback with “I would appreciate a shortcut down the road if it is possible” gets me the best routing.
Fly Safe!


I just joined this forum today, so sorry for the “late” response. I have used DTC DUATS since about the first year it was available (back then it was called Contel). I’ve filed countless IFR flight plans via DTC, and it is my preferred way of getting briefings and filing. I have never had a flight plan altered in the way described in this thread. I am stunned to hear that CSC would be doing such a thing, and I’d encourage dbaker and anyone else who has experienced this to consider switching to DTC.


I’ve used both DUATS providers since their inception. Two years ago, my Captain turned me on to and I haven’t looked back since! You can store multiple flight plans, send departue notices to passengers, send arrival notices to FBO’s, and much more. I’ve added a link to FA in the departure notices for my family and passengers families to track our flight.

My Captain was proud of the tracking capability provided ($$$) by until I turned him onto FA. Seems you can teach old dogs new tricks.


OK, so I had to look this one up because I had something similar happen. The AIM basically states that if a “cleared as filed” is received from the contoller, there has been “little or no change” to the route proposed. (AIM 5-2-3). It is possible that your route was modifed AFTER you got your clearence and ATC did not inform you of the change that was made to your flight plan until you checked on with approach control. Just my 2 cents.


You’re required to fly the route you were CLEARED, and if that happens to be the same as you filed, no problem. When given “cleared as filed”, I always read back “cleared as filed”, followed by the route I filed, and so on. That eliminates any confusion.

When your route takes you through different center airspaces it’s not uncommon to get one routing at departure and a reroute as you cross into a new center. The denser the airspace, the more common it is.

Best wishes,



In Europe (based in germany) they have a nice system for flight plans whether you call or internet, if the plan is not workable according to the ATC then it is rejected. For someone like me not knowing all the little in and outs of the local space can be very frustrating, but 90% of the time I get a Cleared as Filed and have no doubt as to what was filed. course they charge you for for their help filing the flight plan lol. Better than lost and confused.


I am the quality assurance specialist at Miami Tower/Tracon and I have only ever received NASA reports on a couple of occasions. Even then they arrived so long after the fact, no data remained to investigate. Data is kept 45 days.