Saying "Hello" on Approach and the Real Use of Check In

I’ve seen several topics mentioning this lately, and am aware of Tyler’s tutorial, but, if everyone had read those and paid heed to them, there would not be need for this topic. Unfortunately, this problem is not exclusive to those not on the community, rather seeming to be ubiquitous with every aircraft requesting ILS, flight following, visual or anything else.

Check in should only be used in two cases:

  • As a substitute for flight following requests
  • When you are transferred from one radar frequency to another in the event multiple frequencies are in use

These cases are clearly outlined in Tyler’s tutorial linked below.

Nowhere in the post does it mention Check in as what most pilots use it as: basically a “hello” to the controller. When you tune into a radar frequency, please just request the service you desire, you can omit the check in prior to it.

Why it matters
While that extra message may not seem like a lot, it does quickly add up. Imagine TNCM the other day. With about 25 inbounds in the line, and it taking 15 seconds extra to issue a vector because of checking in first for each of those 25 aircraft, that adds up to about six minutes of time that could have been spent focusing on sending vectors to other aircraft that were in the line. When you have that many inbounds on the frequency, those six minutes can be detrimental since the approach requires so much precision to accomplish with the high traffic level.

I promise, I am not the only one who has these sentiments and experiences this on a daily basis. Pretty much every approach controller on the team has faced this issue of aircraft checking in prior to requesting the service. So much so that it has pretty much wormed its way into the IF lore of properly communicating with ATC. It’s small mistakes like these which most everyone overlooks that can have the largest impact due to the large number of people who will then engage in it because they focused on learning the greater fundamentals of communicating with ATC.


Just to follow up on a few questions and comments I’ve received from some DMs…

Check in is a substitute for FF, so you should not check in and then request FF. Apologies if this was not made clear in the main post.

Also, for implementation in the simulator, these practices may vary slightly as with any other ATC practices in the sim compared to the RW application.


Real question is how many of them do this are community members. IF should come up with Tips&tricks icon pop up on top of the screen on long haul flights. Something to do on long flights


Great topic. I can’t stress how annoying it is when I get “with you” from aircraft. Thanks for bringing this into the light!


Most community members that I control fall victim to this

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Do controllers ever give a “Check Forums” to commercial aircraft who request flight following? I never hear them.

As @BluePanda900 mentioned, checking in (“with you” with Departure controller is fine. And it’s enough. The problem is that many first check in and after the ‘Radar Contact’ they request flight following. This is what we don’t need and I often send this pilot ‘avoid sending duplicate messages’.

Check-in with the Approach controller is fine too. Approach will then answer with Roger and send you ‘expect vectors for the ILS approach…’.

Thanks for the post @BluePanda900 🌷


Yup, do just want to add

This is fine if you’re using check in by it’s accepted meaning, but often times people will do that and then request ILS, which becomes a pain and adds extra time which could be prioritized elsewhere.


No joke those math skills blew my mind

Not usually as it isn’t really a critical error. Obviously we may do so in the event that the scenario outlined above occurs repeatedly :)

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I give everyone a check help pages when they check in get an acknowledgement from me and altitude clearance then Request FF 😡. That really grinds my gears.

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I ignore the flight following request after they check in.

I ignore the request but tell them to knock it off also.

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