FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Passengers arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport were rattled by news of the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine on Thursday. As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, many had no idea war-torn airspace is not always avoided by commercial flights.
“I find that very scary,” one woman said. “I hate to fly to begin with.”
Flight 17 was on a path often used from Europe to Asia. While some airlines circumvented Ukraine, others continued to fly the route.
According to Farmingdale State College aviation expert Lawrence Lopez, it’s a matter of money.
“In an effort to reduce costs, the airlines make sure that they are running fuel-efficient trips, and it’s the shortest distance between two points,” Lopez said.
President Barack Obama said evidence so far indicates that Flight 17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
After 298 people were killed, frequent flyers say they’ll check their flight paths online and hope airlines rethink routes over hot spots.
“We shouldn’t leave it up to the airlines to decide on financial reasons,” said air traveler Eddie Kim.
“I would pay extra if it means a little more extra gas,” added Eun-Kyung Kim.
Malaysia Airlines said the route had been deemed safe.
“This usual flight route is commonly used every day by many airlines. It’s been declared safe by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization),” said Huib Gorter, senior vice president of Malaysia Airlines.
On Friday, airlines worldwide were rerouting flights to avoid Ukraine, flight-tracking services showed.
Mohan Chunduri’s flight from Singapore was one of them.
“At Singapore, they took extra 15 minutes to fuel more because they got a message there to go through a different route,” he said.
Passengers can check their route before board on one of many websites that track flight plans. But if it’s a U.S. carrier, Ukraine airspace is off-limits until further notice.
Aviation experts say international flights routinely fly over Afghanistan, as well as other parts of the Middle East.
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