Expert pilots - how do you choose your airports

I really hope that with post we will get a better idea how you, as pilots choose the departure and destination airport on the Expert Server.

Scroll down to reply 38 in the tread and vote!

I’ve been a controller on Expert server for some time now, and here is what I (and many other IFATCs see):

See this?

  • RPLL getting an unrealistic amount of traffic
  • RPVM is getting a few. But mostly outbound traffic to…guess where
  • five controllers being bored and wondering why they opened
  • several major (unstaffed, not in the schedule for that day) hub airports getting inbounds.

And if you think this is a one-off, it isn’t. This one is from the day I write this post.

See RCKH there on the picture? I had just been the controller for that airport for 90 mins and I’ve had 10 aircrafts, all outbound, of which two remaining in the pattern.

Guess what conversations we have on our internal IFATC chat when trying to find a new controller for an airport such as this. Here’s one of many many examples:

Would anyone blame JT here? Of course not!
Is it sad? yes but only if you’re the pilot who decided to set course to the airport. Because by the time he gets there, it will be unstaffed.

A few days ago I noticed this post:

This pilot, planning his flight, is showing the exact same behavior as the ones showing above in the Status screenshots: most of want to fly where the action is

Before I continue let us get one thing straight: unless an airport is full and controllers have to divert traffic to a nearby (staffed) airport, no one will ever tell you where you can or can’t fly. You’re the pilot, you choose.

So while I would never tell any pilot where to fly, or not fly, we do have to understand the consequences of our own behavior.

This is what I see for the smaller and non-hub airports:

The famous chicken and egg situation, just as you see mentioned in the conversation between JT and myself about the quiet airport RCKH. I would never blame a controller for not wanting to open an airport which wouldn’t get any traffic, just I won’t blame a pilot for not flying to a smaller airport, because it’s likely it won’t be staffed or it’s too quiet.

Why do you fly to the hub? What’s your main driver?

Please help us get this and reply below.
How will we avoid this ‘infinite loop’ as in the picture above. How do we avoid controllers and pilots becoming frustrated on quiet airport?

Please stay on topic and be to the point. Would love to hear from many!

Scroll down here and vote!

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As a pilot, I often depart the “hub” and fly to one of the other featured airports to spread the traffic.

As a controller, I always attempt to provide radar services to the “non-hub” airports in hope of driving some traffic that way. It works sometimes, sometimes it doesn’t. While it’s fun to deal with the large traffic volumes at the “hub,” I enjoy at least attempting to draw some traffic to lesser known places.

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Recently I’ve realized how much of a hassle flying into or out of hubs can be, so I only fly to/from hubs for my long hauls, as the hub is usually the biggest airport and has more route options. During the day, I have started stopping by less active airports and doing patterns or short hops between several small airports. Hardly any chance of lines and open airspace, and patterns are allowed, so its nice 🙂

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Well said sir, well said. This loop continues forever, as a majority of pilots go to the hub, and leave others to gather dust. And why would someone want to waste charge on their device just to handle 3 outbound planes in 1 hour?

The loop keeps going like this unless we as pilots and controllers, take accountability to both open airports and control them, and to fly there even if it’s not busy. Everyone has a part to play in this. And while we can’t force everyone to do a different flight, we can take a chance and fly to another airport on the ATC schedule (not the hub). And if enough people do that, ATC will open it, and there will be more manageable amounts of traffic, and it will be more fun for controllers and pilots. Not too busy at the hub, and not deserted at other airports.


For me personally, I’ve been trying to fly to/from quieter airports recently. Wether they’re on the ATC schedule or not (most are, but sometimes end up being uncontrolled).

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I hate flying to the hubs and avoid it at all costs. I’d rather fly out of a smaller or further away from the hub airport because I’m a very impatient person. The only time I’ve ever flown into a hub was when KSFO was featured. I flew in from EHAM. Anyway, I plan my overnights based on how long I have to sleep. If I go to bed at 10 (heaven forbid) and I need to wake up at 7am, I would say okay I need about a 9.5 hour flight. Then I’ll look for one, say EDDF-FAOR (my personal favorite route). If I need to fly for 4 hours during the day, then I’ll go with KLAX-KJFK, or KONT- KEWR. I never plan my flights around IFACT (no offense to you fine people by the way. I have nothing but respect for your hard work)

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Thank you @azeeuwnl,

This is a very important question. I usually depart a smaller quieter airport for a larger secondary hub so I have (nearly) ATC on both ends. Lets keep in mind that most of the traffic to a hub is Non-IFC members, so most of the people are not here to respond. I try to break the cycle but its boring to have one aircraft in an hour.

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i usually depart from hubs because I actually enjoy the ground traffic and taxi delays…but ONLY if there’s stable ATC. otherwise it will turn into training server really quickly.
and i usually flyout to a less crowded place because i like setting up landing procedures while still parked at the departure gate and dont feel like changing them at the last minute lol

Considering how much time Tyler puts in to the schedule each week, it’s sad to see this pattern persist for as long as I’ve been around here.

I’m not necessarily blaming the pilots for this - but if we all put just a little more thought into planning our flights and enjoying that small yet really cool airport that’s buried in the list of featured airports most days, it would certainly make a better experience for pilots and controllers. More frequencies would consistently be open and pilots wouldn’t be getting annoyed by delays at the “hub.”

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Erm…loops are always infinite…as is Infinite Flight

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I like to not sit in a queue for takeoff so I regularly choose the less active airports.

I love airports with <10 activities as I get a far better service. Who prefers Service at McD or a gourmet restaurant… 👍

Then i decide other airport based on how much time I have, 1 or 2 hours.

If both ATC manned then great - best solution. If not then i usually depart with Unicom and arrived at ATC manned airport.

I love Vectoring arrivals 😁

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Another note to add:

I believe this cycle is why many IFATC lose motivation to control. They usually have a choice between opening a small airport, almost always available but not fun. Or as many IFATC do, camp to wait for bigger airports to open. Unfortunately with 500+ controllers not everyone get a chance to do so. Then IFATC leave because its no longer fun.

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I have also seen this and was wondering the same thing. I wish the Pilots would have a more of a diverse selection for flying locations.

I always go to a less controlled location and run some patterns for them.

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See, when I’m flying for one of my VAs , I try to land at the ATC featured airport or the “hub” because or if more than one airports are open in my country , I fly between them (being a part of indian VAs)
But when I’m not flying for the VAs , I try to depart from one of the featured airports and land at the one which is larger than the other one

Now the infinite loop that you mentioned is 100% correct. In fact I’ve seen that whenever india is featured, either VABB, VOHS, or VIDP is the hub but other airports like VEGT are also featured which are smaller airports. ATC don’t open these airport because of very less to no traffic and pilots don’t fly there because they think that ATC will not be present there.
Now in this case, neither IFATC is responsible nor the pilots. In fact it can be resolved easily if we work hand in hand in this case.
I always try to get people fly to these neglected airports in my VA. Most of the times they complain about the same thing that ATC may not be present there.
Believe me , these small airports are beautiful too. In fact the scenery is better than other places . For example VEGT, VEIM, VI65, VI82,and many more.
But not to get off topic, I think that this infinite loop can easily be broken.
Being an airport editor , I would like to say one more thing. It takes hell lot of time for us to edit those airports and add the ATC frequencies too.(well actually adding frequencies doesn’t take that much time lol but still 😅)
I strongly think that people should try getting inbound to the featured airports rahter than getting more departures. Putting myself in your shoes, I understand it’s bit annoying when you give your time to ATC sessions and there is no traffic.
At least I will help on my behalf . Please give us some tips on how we can help the IFATC.

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I think we need an ATC-pilot communication thread lol. Like saying what times one would control an aiport and/or when pilots expect to arrive/depart. B/c I’d gladly fly to/from a quieter airport, but I dont trust IFATC to stay there for an extended period of time. i also tend to stay parked at the gate for a while as I’m constructing a flight plan

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@Captain_Oblivious yes. We should. If the Staff could consider it, its important I think to begin at least putting a crack in the cycle.

I honestly have flown a lot in the last few months. I have noticed this too. For me personally, I fly into airports that have awesome routes for me to fly. This morning I flew into VVTS from LTFM, now I’m going from RKSI-VVNB, I fly where the routes let me. Some days, such as days where Russia is featured, the only choice is to fly into the International Hub because there are no other long-haul flights. I appreciate you bringing this up, that being said, I think this rests on both IFATC and the pilots. If IFATC (I am one of them) open up a small airport, perhaps get a less-experienced radar controller in there, people will fly into it. I think that people find hubs exciting and interesting, but if we open up a small airport and have it staffed, it is bound to get traffic.

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I agree @GreenFire

I think the reason airports with radar get so much more traffic is because its a sign of it being busy and therefore unlikely to close before dep/arr. @JarrettFlies is right. EGLL a while back when I was controlling got a huge boom in traffic when app opened. Its a trust thing.

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As a controller, I generally control the larger airports if I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands, and want some fun and hard action. I rarely pick smaller airports purely as said for the traffic. I’d rather not be controlling somewhere where you have to occasionally be distracted from what you’re doing and just becomes a pain, to not controlling anything at all.


As a pilot:

Expert Server = Always ATC?

Expert Server is free for anyone to fly in with the required grade, anywhere, anything. Not everyone will fly into the hubs, neither any ATC schedule. Whether they are flying on routes for fun with others, flying with a Virtual Airline, or simply off their own accord. It’s not our business to tell them where they can, and cannot fly. For example Heathrow, Los Angeles, Dubai, and Amsterdam. Many people live here, most large airlines and organisations operate here.

Generally people always go to the hubs because they want traffic, and high quality packed airspace and ATC. They want this experience. It’s fun, enjoyable, and a challenge that after time is what you want than your every day normal flight. Going to somewhere with little traffic and a rare chance of you being the only one on an active frequency, if at that. The appeal for it isn’t very much, no?

Recently after 5,800 hours and many years of just flying into the hubs and secondary airports. I get bored. Recently I’ve started to branch out, and generally try to fly to somewhere I’ve not flown before, exploring. Adventuring. Discovering… But I always fly to the IFATC airports, both big and small.

I encourage everyone to explore, and the more people realise this and take effect, the more the pilots will get to explore and view, thus what I would consider as getting more out of their money with a subscription to the world. Expanding more vastly gives both pilots new places to explore, and a wider range of positive and learning IFATC, there’s 530+ of us. Not all these people can fit onto a hub, or somewhere busy enough to learn and progress each day.

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I admit, I do like to fly into the busiest airports. But I 85% of the time only fly into major hubs if I am doing a long haul or overnighter. The reason is majority of hubs are open for long hauls. Like how today, 2 of the hubs have service for 10+ hour flights.

I 100% agree and stand by your opinion on flying to different airports but the major hub. IFATC members love traffic but sometimes we get absolutely none. I went 2 and a half hours without traffic at an airport open for commercial flights. The other half an hour was 2 aircraft going outbound

#flyintootherairports

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