How should I file VFR flight plans in Alaska?

Alaska uses an older filing system that prevents them from easily handling VFR ICAO flight plans. This means that when you file a VFR ICAO plan, an individual at the local FSS must cancel that plan and change it into an FAA Domestic plan format. When you tap the activate button in ForeFlight, it sends an activation message for a plan which has now been canceled by ATC. ATC must then go through the plans to correlate the activation message with the FAA Domestic plan they created.

Filing your VFR flight plans using the FAA Domestic form instead of the ICAO form would appear to be a simple solution, but unfortunately the FAA Domestic format does not include the emergency contact information that Alaska ATC requires. This information is included in the ICAO format, which is why we are using the ICAO format to file VFR in Alaska.  If the FAA ends up needing the information for search and rescue activity, they can go back and locate the original VFR ICAO plan. You may also place the emergency contact information in the Remarks field if you would like, but this isn’t required.

If the FSS has received multiple overlapping plans, or are unable to determine which is the correct plan to place on file, they will not file a plan. Better to have a discussion with the pilot to get the correct plan on file than have the wrong plan on file.

We suggest that you file one plan at a time and do not make amendments to it. If you need to amend a filed flight plan, cancel the flight plan, wait a few minutes, then refile. When you refile, we suggest that you change the estimated time of departure by at least five minutes to help ATC coordinate plans.