Eli Orzessek is Travel's Digital Content Producer.

Ask Away: Can pilots vary planned routes?

Our online guru Eli Orzessek answers your travel questions.
Large variations on a route are normally a planned event and happen before the flight - this is often in conjunction with the airline operations team. Photo / iStock
Large variations on a route are normally a planned event and happen before the flight - this is often in conjunction with the airline operations team. Photo / iStock

I'll be flying with my two kids (both under 12) next month and wondered what the deal is with the duty-free alcohol allowance. Obviously, they can't buy booze. But can they carry it back into the country under the "three bottles of spirits" rule? Meaning, can I get nine bottles of duty-free, instead of just the three I would get under my own passport?

George Baxter, Waterview

Sorry mate, seems like it could be a good scam but it's a no-go. While each individual can bring in three bottles of spirits or 4.5 litres of wine or 4.5 litres of beer, this is provided you are aged 17 or older.

And of course, you have to be 18 to buy alcohol in New Zealand, including Duty-Free shops, in the first place.

Might be an idea to hit up some workmates to bring some back for you next time they fly.

Hi Eli,

In replying to Dominic Dsilva about flight times to and from Mumbai, you resolved a question I originally had on Auckland to Perth flights, which take an hour longer than coming home. It is because of the strong westerly tailwind from Perth and the same headwind going to Perth. In fact, flying to Perth last September, the pilot advised we were flying south of Australia instead of the usual route to avoid the worst of the headwind and then heading north not far before Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia.

My question is, can pilots vary the planned routes as he did or do they need airline approval? But it did save time on a long direct flight.

Murray Hunter

Hi Murray,

I've taken a while to respond to this question because I'd been trying to find a pilot to talk to. Luckily, one recently came through with an answer, although he would like to remain anonymous - but I can assure you that he's the real deal, a commercial pilot.

He says that most routes are predetermined for best safety and economy, but pilots will often use their judgement to make minor variations to the flight route. This is usually to avoid undesirable weather, such as thunderstorms and turbulence. Air traffic might request variations because of traffic congestion, requiring re-routing, holding patterns or speed control, again without consulting the airline. Large variations on a route are normally a planned event and happen before the flight - this is often in conjunction with the airline operations team.

Tweet us @NZHTravel or use the hashtag #NZHAskAway

Email your questions to askaway@nzherald.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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