Sponsor Message:
Civil Aviation Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
Canceling Empty Flights!  
User currently offlineJafa From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 782 posts, RR: 3
Posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4645 times:

Do airlines cancel flights because they are empty? Do you have real or imagined proof of this? I would love to hear your replies?

25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineFreshlove1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4630 times:

Not at my airline, we need the flight to go to get our compleation factor as high as it can get. I don't know about the others

User currently offlinePHXMKEflyer From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 292 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4602 times:

U.S. federal law prohibits airlines from cancelling flights with low-loads

User currently offlineFlairport From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4578 times:

They do, but they desguise it. My dad was traveling ATL-EVV one day and his flight was cancelled due to "mechanical". While it may be possible, all signs leadt to light loads...inlcuding the fact that they had him bookedon other flights before he checked in. If he had taken that flight, however, I'd probably be writing this from EVV and not sunny FLL!

User currently offlineJafa From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 782 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4500 times:

Thats my example of imagined proof! I have work for 5 different airlines and they don't cancel flight due to light loads. The airplane or crew just doesn't fly back and forth to the same place all day. One time they took our perfectly good plane with a light load and gave it to full flight and then gave us a broken one. It ended up being cancelled, 10 people were inconvienenced instead of 140.

User currently offlineNeil49 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 21 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4429 times:

That's one of the most persistent and baseless misconceptions among airline passengers. If there are problems somewhere else in the system, a flight with a light load might be cancelled in order to facilitate the smooth operation of the schedule overall. Thus, a passenger may see a flight cancellation for no apparent reason other than "emptiness."

Airlines have EXTREMELY complicated planning requirements for aircraft and crew placements for daily operations, and even where a flight is a certain loser in terms of passenger load, that aircraft has been assigned a certain rotation in the schedule, and other flights depend on its being where it's supposed to be. Many factors are considered in this aircraft placement scheme, including maintenance requirements, crew scheduling, etc. This complex planning operation simply cannot be subjected to the short-term vagaries of load variations.

Scheduled cancellations, called NO-OPS, ARE often a part of an airline's operation during predictable periods of light traffic, such as holidays. These no-ops are simply reductions in a schedule and are planned and posted many months in advance. There could be instances where passengers, used to seeing a flight operate on a given schedule, seeing that on a particular day it is NOT available, might conclude that it was cancelled due to light load. In a sense true, but not really a "cancellation."

User currently offlineFlairport From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4375 times:

my dad was at the airport when he found out. it was a busy time and all ops had been smooth. I did research and found NO delays or cancellations prior to his flight. This was a 10:10am flight...first fo the day to EVV...supposed to be empty. My dad might be the exception to what is stated above, but it does happen.

User currently offlineGoingboeing From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 4875 posts, RR: 15
Reply 7, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4374 times:

I met a TWA flight from OMA-MCI that got in at 11:00 p.m. and the only "passenger" was my counter to counter package I was waiting for. I suppose they could have cancelled it, but that would have meant they would have had to cancel the MCI-STL flight that the aircraft was needed for the next morning.

User currently offlineAlpha 1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4345 times:

Remember, most times, if you cancel one leg for an aircraft, you'll probably have to cancel at least one other ,and as many as 5 or 6 legs for that aircraft, depending on the time of day or the availibility of other aircraft. Your flight may have 15 people on it, but the next leg could be overbooked, something that a customer, who may not see "the big picture" fails to consider or realize.

A scenario that does happen is cancelling a lightly booked flight to run a flight that is more heavily booked, if they're both similar equipment, and you can't accomodate people that easy on the more heavily booked flight, and can accomodate those fairly easily on the lightly booked flight. This happens sometime, but it's not technically a cancellation because the flight is empty. It's the old adage "the good of the many outweight the good of the few."  Smile

User currently offlineN276AASTT From US Virgin Islands, joined Jan 2004, 620 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 4218 times:

Airlines won't cancel a flight if it is empty. The aircraft is on a set schedule, meaning there are flights that specific plane is set for provided no mechanicals. The airline needs the plane at the destination to go ahead and turn into another flight.

Dejale Caer tu el Peso! YOMO
User currently offlineJGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4091 times:

QF definitely do, on domestic sectors with high frequency - 2 flights close together can be merged if one of the flights has low sales - pax just get reaccomodated onto the next flight.

User currently offlineCarduelis From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2001, 1586 posts, RR: 10
Reply 11, posted (11 years 7 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 3980 times:

The First Principal of Transport is that whatever the day, whatever the routing, there will always be an Inbalance of Flow!

As said above, the aircraft is not only going on the empty sector, it also has a schedule for the rest of the day/week. My main experience was with long haul, so we never cancelled flights, not only because of the differing load factors, but also for crew scheduling. A crew operating an 'empty' flight, might be due to operate another flight after their 'slip', and if they were not in the right place, then the later flight would have crewing problems!

Recent cancellations (of 'full' flights) through 'Intelligence Reports' cause havoc, not only to the delayed passengers, but particularly, the airline involved!

Per Ardua ad Astra! ........ Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense!
User currently offlineNWAFA From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1893 posts, RR: 15
Reply 12, posted (11 years 7 months 22 hours ago) and read 3784 times:

I can say WN XCL PHX-ABQ-PHX QUITE OFTEN. Oh sure they use the "Mechanical" reasons. A friend of mine who is an agent in ABQ says this one flight is always booked at 5-15 people and they are XCL 3-4x a week.

User currently offlineOttoPylit From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (11 years 7 months 21 hours ago) and read 3715 times:

Not only is it against federal law to cancel flights due to low-loads, but I don't think some people understand how a simple cancellation of that would create a whole myriad of problems on the other side of the spectrum.

Airlines plan out days in advance just exactly where they expect planes and crews to be at the end of the day. If a flight is going to be going out light, they could easily cancel it, but they then have to put the scheduling department at work trying to put this crew somewhere, they then have to decide where to stick this plane in the meantime, and reroute all other arrivals that were scheduled to use that gate. Thats in a hub. If the plane will be remaining overnight somewhere, you then will have a canceled flight the next morning to deal with. Most flights will run, passengers or not, all because they are positioning flights for later on.

I once had a day during bad weather that we were able to move everyone on a 7pm flight that was now leaving at 10pm to a delayed 6pm flight that was now leaving at 8pm. When that 7pm inbound aircraft came in, it brought in 14 people and left out with 1, and even that person was a nonrev.

Of course, when our flights cancel, as a passenger we will always blame it on light loads, its the easiest thing to do and makes it seem as this airline is more ruthless than another. We don't want to admit to ourselves that maybe our safety was a factor in the cancellation, or maybe it is something thats out of our hands. Those are all too hard to personally accept. We can say, "Well, it bet it cancelled because of a light load, thats why I will never fly this airline again." We feel much better after sticking the blame all on something.

User currently offlineIsitsafenow From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4984 posts, RR: 22
Reply 14, posted (11 years 7 months 21 hours ago) and read 3640 times:

Airlines dont cancel flights with light loads? And the tooth fairy now has a union contract that says you must put no less then 4 teeth under your pillow.
I have over 1600 commercial flights under my belt and I can guarantee you to the death, they DO xcl flights with very light loads. Take it to the bank, gang!
Against the law? So is 56 miles per hour on a two lane highway in my state.
Any how many people drive at 55 or under? Close to nil. I think we all know that.
The number one excuses airline people give out are..... no crew or "weather". We have all seen the weather trick..they say "weather" so we call someone at our destination and they say "what storm?..its sunny and nice here".
been there...seen that ....more times then you would believe.

If two people agree on EVERYTHING, then one isn't necessary.
User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 80
Reply 15, posted (11 years 7 months 21 hours ago) and read 3619 times:

Its "illegal", but almost every return flight CMH-DCA I've ever tried to take on US got cancelled for whatever random reason.

I used to go twice a month, and literally 20 of the 24 return segments were cancelled, and I'd get rerouted via PIT or PHL.

These flights were always sparsely loaded.


User currently offlineInnocuousFox From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2805 posts, RR: 12
Reply 16, posted (11 years 7 months 21 hours ago) and read 3573 times:

"Airlines have EXTREMELY complicated planning requirements for aircraft and crew placements for daily operations"

Hmpf... no kidding. Try writing computer code to do it all... for a bloody game!

Actually, most airlines have something along the lines of a "delay/swap/cancel" advisor. It is ususally a computer program that does all the figuring for them of what would happen down the line. Mostly it is for situations like mechanical or weather delays. I suspect it would be good for lumping low load flights together, however. Why run 2 a/c that are less than half full when you can run one?

"Remember, most times, if you cancel one leg for an aircraft, you'll probably have to cancel at least one other ,and as many as 5 or 6 legs for that aircraft"

That is the crux of the problem. In a purely "out and back" hub system, it is the simplest calculation. If I cancel this "outbound" leg, I also have to cancel the return leg as well.

Dave Mark - Intrinsic Algorithm - Reducing the world to mathematical equations!
User currently offlineJafa From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 782 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (11 years 7 months 20 hours ago) and read 3522 times:

I thought this was a popular misconception made by passengers, I will put it under urban legend! I have worked for 5 different airlines in the cabin, at the gate, ticket counter, operations, and ramp. I have yet to hear of a flight cancelled because the load was light. Once I was at ORD boarding the 8am flight to MSP. We have hourly flights. A passenger comes ranting and raving about us canceling the 7am flight becasue it was empty. At the gate next door was a DC9 with its engine cowling open mechanics working on it. Even after I pointed this out he stuck by his story that we were a bunch of liars. As far as the hub and spoke system, most majors have more than one hub so its all not out and back flying. To our dismay sometimes we even have to switch planes at out stations.

User currently offlineFlyboyaz From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (11 years 7 months 20 hours ago) and read 3493 times:

I've gotten that from passengers too. I've never seen a flight cancelled either because of light loads...of course they probably wouldn't tell us if it was. I've seen "OPNL DECISION" before, usually means it was cancelled for some reason other than mx, wx, crew....they also use it for planned cancellations around holidays.

User currently offlineJessman From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1506 posts, RR: 7
Reply 19, posted (11 years 7 months 19 hours ago) and read 3409 times:

I often have the unfortunate task of calling people when their flight is cancelled. The thing about aircraft schedules being complicated is very true. I often have to call about 4 different flights resulting from one aircraft out of service.

Weather is often used as a reason for cancelling flights because weather is often the primary reason why a particular flight was cancelled. So what if the weather is great in Atlanta and great in Indianapolis, the weather is really crappy in Washington DC where the aircraft and flight attendants are. Sometimes the weather is extremely crappy over Louisville, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and flying over the storm would be asking for a lawsuit when turbulence sends 5 passengers and two flight attendants rapidly flying toward to the ceiling and then rapidly crashing back to the floor, or onto other passengers. Flying around the storm makes you overfly DEN on the way (i.e. not feasible due to range restrictions)

And the passengers really don't want to believe this. I once called someone from Cincinnati, where I am based, about a flight cancelled out of CVG, and someone had the nerve to tell me that the weather was great in Cincinnati. I'm sorry, don't you hear the thunder. Let me open the window for you.

This is yet another reason why I love the Gate Information Display Screens that Delta has. They can just pull up the radar weather and point, see that line of pink, that means freezing rain. Freezing rain accumulates on aircraft wings and causes their shape to alter. An altered aircraft wing does not provide adequate lift. The aircraft becomes a rock. YAAA!

Think what you want, they don't cancel because of light loads

User currently offlineZona8 From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 128 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (11 years 7 months 19 hours ago) and read 3369 times:

All this makes me feel much better, just yesterday I was having this discussion about a 757 flight coming up that I and three other people are on so far. An early sunday flight on DL from IAD-ATL.

User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 66
Reply 21, posted (11 years 7 months 19 hours ago) and read 3333 times:

"Light loads" is just a cover story. The planes are ferried to a secret base in the Bermuda Triangle by men in black suits, to refill the chemical tanks with the mind control drugs that we spray back and forth across the oceans.

I'd like to see a person who beleives that a major airline cancels due to light loads take on the project of getting the planes, crews freight, mail AOG shipments squared away after just one such cancelation. Don't forget to make up the time, because the next maintenance is scheduled on a certain date, based on the time expected to be flown.

As a crewmember I am mildly incovenienced when we cancel a segment. I keep my perspective though, being thankful I don't have to deal with all the out-of-position people and equipment that result from the cancelation.

Illegal? You going 56 in a 55 zone leaves no paper trail. EVERYTHING an airline does leaves one. Fine for speeding - a few bucks. Fine for violating Federal regs by an airline - typically $10-12 thousand per event. The true cost of canceling a flight probably exceeds the after-tax cost of operating it.

Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineM404 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 2240 posts, RR: 4
Reply 22, posted (11 years 7 months 17 hours ago) and read 3246 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!


One possible reason you say he thought it was lightly booked is that others had already been protected by being booked on alternatives. You've said he was in fact pre-rearranged. That rebooking process can start way in advance if knowledge is available of, say a broke acft, in another city that would have been scheduled to be his flight. He may already have been enroute and unable to receive the rebooking information.

But yes, it can happen. The loads an acft is scheduled to have CAN influence which leg may be cancelled in order to effect the least people, crew, aircraft, maintenance schedule and airport where that maintenance can take place AND where the parts and facilities needed are available. It is only one factor and never the single determining factor.

Yet another possibility is that if the agent explained it as a mechanical problem they were just giving a simple reason that they hoped needed no further explaination when in fact it was more involved than that whether that info was available or not.

Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
User currently offlineJessman From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1506 posts, RR: 7
Reply 23, posted (11 years 7 months 16 hours ago) and read 3159 times:

Delta has automation that rebooks passengers on the next available DL flight as soon as a flight has been cancelled. Then it falls to folks like me to call. Sometimes we have time to get hold of everyone. Sometimes we don't. Often we don't have the correct phone number. I realize that many passengers don't trust any company with that little bit of information, but those are often the same passengers who raise a large stink about the airline not contacting them. It must have been a conspiracy  Insane. A helpful hint to those of you who are thinking of traveling; as soon as you know give the airline every phone number at which you might reasonably be reached during your travel (work, home, CELL, destination phone numbers) We do try to call. Really.

User currently offlineETA Unknown From Comoros, joined Jun 2001, 2163 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (11 years 7 months 15 hours ago) and read 3078 times:

Isitsafenow hit the nail on the head and I'm afraid to say, airlines do cancel flights because of light loads- I was once told this was the reason for my non-op LAX-DFW flight by the Delta check-in staff.

And if anybody ever flew United EWR-ORD prior to 9/11, you would know very well that flights get cancelled for no pax, especially if the aircraft is rostered to fly back and forth- don't forget, there is still a lot of that kind of flying- look at AA's ORD based fleet.

Yes, it may be illegal, but so what- you just log the cancellation as a mechanical- who is going to check?

[Edited 2004-02-04 00:22:52]

User currently offlineAAJAXFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 25, posted (11 years 7 months 14 hours ago) and read 3067 times:

I've seen flights cancelled because they had light loads and the aircraft for another, full flight went mechanical. So, they cancel one and swap the aircraft to the other.

Top Of Page
Forum Index

This topic is archived and can not be replied to any more.

Printer friendly format

Similar topics:More similar topics...
BMed Operating Empty Flights LHR-CWL posted Mon Mar 12 2007 17:24:03 by Sean377
Swiss Canceling NRT Flights Because Of Sars? posted Wed Apr 9 2003 21:16:56 by Swissgabe
Empty Flights Around posted Fri Aug 2 2002 17:42:26 by Flying-b773
Air Comet Canceling Flights? posted Tue Jun 5 2007 19:41:38 by Airportmanager
PHL-US Canceling Flights All Over! posted Sun Nov 12 2006 21:37:51 by Cityguy
Anyone Know Why BA Is Canceling Flights? posted Tue Feb 25 2003 02:27:54 by Planenutz
Is AA Canceling MIA-ANU Flights? posted Sun Nov 11 2001 20:05:38 by Ahlfors
So How Empty Are Flights Really? posted Thu Sep 27 2001 01:32:05 by Gordonroxburgh
Future Flights And Canceling Tickets? posted Wed Sep 12 2001 13:33:42 by Naimas
Why No Intercontinental Flights To And From SLC? posted Thu Jun 21 2007 03:01:39 by Impacto