Snowden Onboard Aeroflot Flight to Havana?

The whole Edward Snowden issue is a mess and I am not going to weigh in on my own feelings about him here. But his saga to seek asylum is inextricably linked to travel and after spending two weeks camped out in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo (Шереметьево) Airport, it seems that he may have made his move.

Venezuela has offered him asylum, but getting there is no easy task. Last week, the private jet of Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced down in Austria so that it could be checked for stowaways with the initials ES on board...The only realistic option other than chartering a private jet for about $150,000 is to fly on the fabled Cold War Moscow-Havana Aeroflot route. But even that is problematic, since EU and U.S. airspace is crossed (meaning the plane could be forced down like Morales' jet). Unless, of course, a circuitous route is taken to minimize risk and at least avoid some U.S. and Canadian airspace.

Mike brought to my attention the normal routing of SU150 compared to today's routing--


normal routing for SU150 SVO-HAV


today's routing for SU150 SVO-HAV, currently in-flight

If I was a betting man, I'd say that Mr. Snowden has left the airport! Then again, heavy turbulence has been reported over Greenland and the current routing may just be more favorable in that respect...


Anthony July 11, 2013 at 03:33 pm

Is this for today 7/11/2013? Can't seem to find the flight

Doug July 11, 2013 at 03:39 pm

Matt, Enjoy reading your blog. I'm pretty sure you meant Edward not Eric. Keep the posts coming.

@Anthony: Yup, flight is currently in the air--

@Doug: Thanks--can't believe I made that mistake.

XXXX July 11, 2013 at 04:19 pm

will the usa shoot down the airplane or kill him in a more subtle way?

Hamon July 11, 2013 at 04:20 pm

Yea, but there is a pretty nice jetstream blowing from south to north along the US eastcoast today. Wich could have lead to this alternate route this one is aprx. only 400km longer than the usual route...and with the given wind situation it could even be more fuel efficient.

So it might be Snowden or the Jetstream, or both...we'll see.

Edward July 11, 2013 at 04:30 pm

ttp:// - his Flight live

@Hamon: Indeed you are correct--we'll see what happens when the plane shortly lands.

Matthias July 11, 2013 at 04:54 pm

I wonder if flying over the Bahamas is a good idea. Although I' really not an expert on these matters a quick research suggests that they have treaties regarding the extradition and the cooperation of law enforcement.(mainly for drug-related stuff but it's probably transferable)

Green July 11, 2013 at 04:57 pm

"Aeroflot 150's last 93 trips from Moscow to Havana and noticed that it had taken the more direct route two other times. So, this has happened before.

Then, as The Washington Post reports, it turns out that "a number of westbound trans-Atlantic flights are today taking this unusual southern route, apparently for weather-related reasons." There's turbulence over Greenland, it seems."

I guess well find out for sure in a few hours.

@Green--I had no idea how much airspace the U.S. controlled. Thanks for linking to the NPR story.

Jens July 11, 2013 at 05:09 pm

"noticed that it had taken the more direct route two other times"

How exactly is this route "more direct"?

Jens July 11, 2013 at 05:18 pm

"On the route it's flying today, it will fly in U.S. airspace; the U.S. controls most of the Western half of the North Atlantic."

Well, it coordinates that airspace. But the airspace is not over US territory or territorial waters. Do do they have any kind of sovereignty there?

@Jens, indeed, though more linear on the map the "direct" route adds km because of the globe's curvature.

If it weren't for the part where most other flights were tracking more southerly today due to turbulence over Greenland and other weather-related issues this might be a more plausible theory.

Do you ever have anything positive to say Seth?

Anzhelika July 11, 2013 at 09:27 pm

According to Russians, the flight landed in Havana without Snowden But then again, I should know better than trust Russians:-)

o_O July 12, 2013 at 01:46 am

Due to and the flight didn't arrived yet. whats happened?

Helixcardinal July 12, 2013 at 01:54 am

Though I agree Seth usually has a more critiquing viewpoint in his comments, I've yet to find situations where his comments are not supported by strong evidence, as illustrated above.

@a_O: Flight has arrived:

@Helixcardinal: Yes, but others had already pointed out the same thing--see the NPR article in comment 9. I see no need to be redundant.

Kacee July 12, 2013 at 03:20 am

Interesting theory, but I doubt the US would mess with an Aeroflot flight. Bolivian President? Sure, force it down. International incident involving Air Force intercept of Russian national carrier? Doubtful.

@Kacee: I would actually think it would be the opposite, but appears Mr. Snowden is still enjoying his life in the transit zone of SVO!

The AFL150 on currently still shows "unknown result". Kind of exciting, what really happaned last night in Moscow. If he was on board , the mscheduled eeting today with human rights activists in Moscow was a smart diversionary tactic.

HMA July 12, 2013 at 08:57 am

I am just wondering why that flight normally does not go that second route anyway. It is way shorter than the regular one.

This is the same bull like flying from Europe to Canada or Mexico, somehow U.S. airspace is always touched even if it does not make sense. I do not want to fly to the U.S. neither fly over their territory anywhere, but they seem to make it hard to avoid.

steve July 13, 2013 at 09:28 am

Why not just take a direct flight to Tehran. Then from Tehran to Caracas? I am sure the Russian federation can pull some strings in Iran to make this doable.

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