A flight path (often abbreviated as FP) is the primary means of zone-to-zone travel on Azeroth and Outland. They are a transportation link between two fixed geographical points via fixed paths on faction-exclusive aerial mounts. The Alliance utilizes both the Gryphons of the Hinterlands and the Hippogryphs of Kalimdor for transportation, while the Horde uses Kalimdor's Wyverns, Lordaeron's massive Vampire bats, and Quel'Thalas's rare Dragonhawks.
See the side bar for links to listings of specific flight paths.
Identification and use
A flight point is manned by a single NPC, a flight master. A flight path must first be "discovered" by visiting an area's flight master, which will then enable traveling to and from that area. If a flight master has a flight path to teach you, a green will appear above his or her head, the flight master will appear as a on your mini-map, and as a shoe-with-wing icon on the world map. Once you learn a flight point, it will be offered as a destination by all flight masters on the same continent. Even if you haven't learned the flight points in between two far-flung destinations, you will be able to route through them, but not land there.
Flight path icons are color-coded by faction on the world map: blue for Alliance, red for Horde and gold for neutral (usable by both factions). Players cannot see the opposite faction's flight points on the world map.
Since Cataclysm, flight paths rides move at 434% of running speed, making them considerably faster than unbuffed Master Flying (310%). However, flight paths also often take unneeded turns to reach their destinations, making the effective difference smaller. It may be faster to use a flying mount instead of a flight path, especially pairing Master Flying with a flight speed buff – , etc. – to avoid the unnecessary sight-seeing that flight paths take.
If flight masters are attacked by members of the opposing faction, they will spawn a pair of level 110 elite adds to defend themselves (Enraged Wyverns or Enraged Felbats for Horde flight masters, Enraged Hippogryphs or Enraged Gryphons for Alliance). Flight masters, while hostile to enemy players, have no aggro radius and will only attack enemy players if they attack them first. This is done so that neutral places like Light's Hope Chapel, where both Alliance and Horde flight masters reside, allow players to remain there without causing unwanted PvP fights.
Logging out in flight
If you log out in flight, upon logging back on, you will continue your flight from the same spot where you logged out. However, in a flight of multiple legs, you will then land at the next known waypoint of the journey. This behavior can be used to abort a flight, provided there are waypoints before the destination. (Though nowadays, there's also a button "Request stop" just above the spell bar which does the same/) This also happens if you teleport into an instance (Dungeon Finder, Raid Finder or scenario) mid-flight and then exit the instance: you will return to the flight path at the point you were before entering the instance, but will be dropped off at the next known waypoint.
Interestingly, logging back in to an Alliance character using a flight path will change whichever steed (Hippogryph, Skeletal Gryphon, Dragonhawk) was being ridden before into a normal Gryphon, and Horde characters will log back in to find themselves riding a Wyvern.
Since Cataclysm, all characters automatically know the flight paths to all of their faction's capital cities and starting zone hubs, as well as Shattrath City and Dalaran. Alliance characters also learn the flight path between Rut'theran Village and Lor'danel upon discovering either one of its endpoints.
Death knights begin the game with access to all of their faction's flight paths in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, with the following exceptions: the Isle of Quel'Danas, Zul'Aman in the Ghostlands, the Bulwark at the edge of Tirisfal Glades, the Thondroril River between the Western Plaguelands and Eastern Plaguelands, and most smaller quest hubs (specifically, those added in Patch 4.0.3a). All of those flight points were added after the death knight class was introduced.
Originally at each flight point you had to select the next flight point you wanted to go to and so on until you reached your destination. AFK characters were more prevalent than they are now at flight points before the introduction of linked flight paths in Patch 1.10.0 allowed you to pick a point across the map and fly all the way there, provided that you knew all the intermediate flight paths. For example, new players in Northrend sometimes quest in both Borean Tundra and the Howling Fjord, but are unable to fly between them because they are linked by several intermediate flight paths in much higher level zones.
Over time, additional flight points were added at various places.
Then, in Patch 4.0.3a, flight paths changed for the release of Cataclysm to reflect the revised world. Many zones received additional flight paths that make traveling within the zone faster and easier. And in some zones, flight paths disappeared or appeared due to changes in Alliance and Horde control. To remedy the breaking of some flight paths, characters now received all undiscovered flight points zone-by-zone on reaching suitable character levels. This had the effect of immediately granting many players knowledge of flight paths they had not known before Patch 4.0.3a. Characters were also automatically given all flight points for many faction-specific low-level zones upon creation.
In Patch 5.2.0 the Cataclysm changes were reverted, with flight points no longer automatically discovered.
In Patch 6.1.0, the behavior of flight paths changed again. Players may now fly through flight points that they have not discovered yet if doing so would result in a more direct flight path to the destination. Also, a button was added to the interface to allow players to abort a flight midway and land at the next known flight point (while flying past unknown flight points on the way).
One can often see what type of mount a certain flight point uses by the nearby banner:
- Patch 6.1.0 (2015-02-24): Flight Path Improvements:
- Improved the logic used for connecting flight paths. Players are now able to fly through flight points that they have not discovered yet if it'll result in a more direct flight path to a destination point.
- A button has been added for characters in the middle of a flight to get off at the next known flight point.
- Patch 5.2.0 (2013-03-05): Flight points must now be found once again and are no longer automatically learned from levels, this change was undocumented.
- Patch 4.0.3a (2010-11-23): All characters now know the flight paths to their faction's capital cities, starting zone hubs, and Dalaran.
- Hotfix (2008-03-30): When taking the flight path from Ironforge to the Isle of Quel'Danas, you will no longer become fatigued and die if you had any buffs active which affect your ability to breathe underwater
- Patch 1.10.0 (2006-03-28): Linked flight paths implemented.