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Any Rhyme Or Reason To Flight Numbers?  
User currently offlinePWMRamper From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 599 posts, RR: 3
Posted (4 years 3 months ago) and read 7007 times:

I've always wondered this. I know generally odd flight numbers go west and south, even go east and north, but that's certainly not always the case.

Is there any science to flight numbers, in regards to mainline flights? I know regional carriers have a "zone" of numbers to use, but I'm not talking about those.


Who decided flight UA881 was ORD-NRT? Is it truly random or is there a reason behind each and every number?

55 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineMD11junkie From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 3136 posts, RR: 58
Reply 1, posted (4 years 3 months ago) and read 7009 times:

It actually depends on the airline.

The convention, IIRC is that the even number goes out of the hub, and the odd flight number comes in to the hub. This is the case with airlines like AR and LA.

Saludos,



There is no such thing as Boeing vs Airbus as the queen of the skies has three engines, winglets and the sweetest nose!
User currently offlineSoxfan From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 862 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6955 times:

I believe that some flight numbers do have significance, for example, 1776 to Philadelphia or 777 to Las Vegas (don't know specific airlines). Other than that, I have no idea.


Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
User currently offlinePlaneguy727 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 1210 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6931 times:

Others are based on integration after a merger. For example:

when US and HP joined flights were eventually renumbered 1-699 were the old HP mainline, 700-1999 (I think that was the high end) became old US flights, 2000-2199 are for shuttle flights. IIRC they are still using this numbering system.



I want to live in an old and converted 727...
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15459 posts, RR: 26
Reply 4, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6899 times:



Quoting PWMRamper (Thread starter):
Who decided flight UA881 was ORD-NRT?

Asians who believe that the number 8 is lucky. Many airlines have flight numbers starting with or containing 8 on their flights to Asia.

This is also supposedly part of why we got the A380 and 787. Asia is a big part of the market for both airliners.

Quoting Soxfan (Reply 2):
I believe that some flight numbers do have significance,

CO 500 is IAH-IND and CO 1492 is IAH-CMH. NW 500 is also a flight to IND.

Flight 1 is also generally given to what is considered the most prestigious flight, which is a tradition that comes from railroads. AA 1 is JFK-LAX, DL 1 is JFK-LHR, UA 1 is ORD-HNL, and NW 1 is LAX-NRT.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineSlinky09 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2009, 791 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6878 times:



Quoting MD11junkie (Reply 1):
The convention, IIRC is that the even number goes out of the hub, and the odd flight number comes in to the hub. This is the case with airlines like AR and LA.

That may be true in the US, but not elsewhere, in the UK it's opposite.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 4):
Flight 1 is also generally given to what is considered the most prestigious flight

Absolutely, witness the days of Concorde!


User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 24315 posts, RR: 47
Reply 6, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6870 times:

Well IATA recommended practices call for Odd numbers for West and South, and even numbers for East and North.

Obviously not all airlines follow such practices. Some like Lufthansa use even numbers for outbound flights its hubs, and odd on the return.

For your UA881 example, United as with some other airlines (Cathay is one) make good use of number combinations on Asia flights which is are considered lucky numbers. For instance 8 is considered to mean fortunate, while 88 together is considered to mean happiness.
Similar destination specific flight numbers take place for various reasons, with for example as previously mentioned the 7 combo used by several airlines on flights to LAS.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineAircellist From Canada, joined Oct 2004, 1624 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6800 times:

AC had flight # from 840 up, to ID flights to Europe, pre-merger. I haven't checked recently how it goes... Ah, the days of the paper timetables...

User currently offlineDc9northwest From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 2199 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6775 times:

It depends on the airline, really.

KLM, for example has 6xx flights to North America (or just the US):
611/2 is AMS-ORD-AMS
621/2 is AMS-ATL-AMS
etcetera
For OTP, KLM long operated flight numbers like 1359, 1360, 1389, but from the summer schedule, they're changing to 1371-1374 or 1376 (I forget how many daily flights they'll now have).

TAROM, the Romanian airline also has some sort of logic in assigning flight numbers:
371 through 374 is Brussels
381 through 384 is Paris
I believe AMS is 361/362
Flights to Germany are 30x and 31x (Frankfurt and Munich respectively, I think)
065/066 is Dubai
101/102 is Cairo.
Internal flights start with 600 to the Western part of the country, with 700 to Sibiu, Iasi and Targu Mures and 800 to Bacau and Suceava... So there is certainly a logic to the numbering, but it differs by airline.

Odd numbers out of the hub, even numbers to the hub (for Tarom and KLM).


User currently offlineKingFriday013 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1294 posts, RR: 10
Reply 9, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 6615 times:



Quoting BMI727 (Reply 4):
Flight 1 is also generally given to what is considered the most prestigious flight, which is a tradition that comes from railroads. AA 1 is JFK-LAX, DL 1 is JFK-LHR, UA 1 is ORD-HNL, and NW 1 is LAX-NRT.

CO 1 is the IAH-HNL-GUM (leaves IAH in the late-ish morning), and CO 2 is the return (HNL-IAH leg is a redeye).
BA 1 is LCY-SNN-JFK; it used to be the concorde flight LHR-JFK, and BA 2 was the return.

-J.



Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you, By the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!
User currently onlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22302 posts, RR: 20
Reply 10, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 6602 times:



Quoting Dc9northwest (Reply 8):
371 through 374 is Brussels
381 through 384 is Paris
I believe AMS is 361/362
Flights to Germany are 30x and 31x (Frankfurt and Munich respectively, I think)

UA has a few similar flight number blocks...

600 through 631 are ORD-DCA-ORD (even eastbound, odd westbound)

Mainline ORD-LGA-ORD are in the high 600s.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently onlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24070 posts, RR: 22
Reply 11, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 6601 times:



Quoting LAXintl (Reply 6):
Well IATA recommended practices call for Odd numbers for West and South, and even numbers for East and North.

Obviously not all airlines follow such practices. Some like Lufthansa use even numbers for outbound flights its hubs, and odd on the return.

The IATA recommended practice seems more common. In addition to LH, LX (and previously Swissair) uses the "even numbers from hubs, odd to hubs" convention. That's why their westbound transatlantic flights have even numbers, while most other airlines use odd numbers westbound.

DL has one oddity where DL1 and DL3 JFK-LHR and DL2 and DL4 LHR-JFK are opposite to their usual eastbound even, westbound odd numbering. I think that was because they wanted the "prestigious" DL1 number for the outbound flight from JFK when they first started nonstop service JFK-LGW after acquiring the NYC-LON rights from UA when they dropped the route. DL of course moved from LGW to LHR after the US-EU Open Skies agreement removed the previous airport restrictions.

I think UA is still using some of the same numbers for their transpacific flights that were used by Pan Am before UA acquired PA's Pacific routes in 1986.


User currently offlineHotelDJRomeo From Canada, joined Dec 2009, 159 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 6563 times:



Quoting Dc9northwest (Reply 8):
KLM, for example has 6xx flights to North America (or just the US):

Holds true for Canada as well.

AMS-YYZ is 691/2
AMS-YYC is 677/8
AMS-YVR is 681/2

Etc etc etc



Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
User currently offlineIAHcsr From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 3354 posts, RR: 42
Reply 13, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 6474 times:
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For CO to//rom IAH:
EWR xx11 / xx10
MSY xx23/ xx22
AUS xx40/ xx41
SAT xx78/ xx79
MCO xx87/ xx86
LAX xx94/ xx95
DEN xx98/ xx99

There are numerous others but you get the idea..  biggrin 

This pattern is not true of every city pair nor of every flight within a city pair...exceptions are everywhere..  crazy 



Working very hard to Fly Right....
User currently offlineLTU932 From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 13864 posts, RR: 50
Reply 14, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 6428 times:



Quoting BMI727 (Reply 4):
Flight 1 is also generally given to what is considered the most prestigious flight, which is a tradition that comes from railroads. AA 1 is JFK-LAX, DL 1 is JFK-LHR, UA 1 is ORD-HNL, and NW 1 is LAX-NRT.

In the case of LH, LH 1 is the first HAM-FRA flight of the day, which leaves at 0605.


User currently offlineSeaBosDca From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 5089 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 6361 times:

Many airlines (I'm thinking here of BA, pre-merger NW, and old-school PA, but I know there are many more) start with intercontinental flights at the low end, followed by other international flights and then domestic flights. This is similar to the idea that the most "prestigious" flights would get the low numbers.

AS 1/2 and 3/4 are (ANC)-SEA-DCA, which was a huge coup for the airline when they received the authority.



Most gorgeous aircraft: Tu-204-300, 757-200, A330-200, 777-200LR, 787-8
User currently offlineAirport From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 6298 times:

Searching through the route system, I like CO's subtle, almost cheeky cleverness when assigning certain flight numbers, I'm trying to compile a list, thank you to a.netters for providing hints above --

CO500: IAH-IND
CO1492: IAH-CMH
CO1776: IAH-PHL

UA seems to miss some opportunities -- they have UA779 that's a DEN-LAS, why not make it UA777? Likewise, they have UA68 that goes from Chicago to L.A., why not bump it down a couple notches and make it UA66, in reference of course to Route 66.

Oop, just found on flyertalk a thread on this subject, and it appears this tradition is not limited to CO! My mistake...still fun nonetheless.


User currently onlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24070 posts, RR: 22
Reply 17, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 6283 times:



Quoting Aircellist (Reply 7):
AC had flight # from 840 up, to ID flights to Europe, pre-merger. I haven't checked recently how it goes...

AC has been using 800-series numbers for Canada-Europe flights since they put their first DC-8 into service 50 years ago (when they were still Trans-Canada Air Lines). Currently, their lowest Europe flight number is 830 (YYZ-YUL-GVA) and the highest is 899 (LHR-YEG). With new services this summer, the lowest number will be 814 (YYZ-BCN).

Many AC flight numbers haven't changed for decades. AC856/857 have been used for one of their YYZ-LHR-YYZ flights since DC-8 days, and AC870/871 has been used YUL-CDG-YUL as long as I can remember. Most of their current Canada-Asia flight numbers were inherited from the merger with CP, for example AC1 and AC2, YYZ-NRT-YYZ..

AC's famous "Gimli Glider" B767-200 that ran out of fuel in 1983 half way from YOW to YEG on a YUL-YOW-YEG flight, and glided to a safe landing at a closed RCAF base at Gimli, Manitoba with minimal damage, was AC143. Twenty-seven years later, AC143 still operates YUL-YOW-YEG at almost the same times as in 1983, except now it's an Embraer 190 after being an A319 for quite a few years.


User currently offlineLHCVG From United States of America, joined May 2009, 1446 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6211 times:



Quoting SeaBosDca (Reply 15):
AS 1/2 and 3/4 are (ANC)-SEA-DCA, which was a huge coup for the airline when they received the authority.

I believe the return flight to SEA is flight 5 if I'm not mistaken. I was waiting for my USX flight Saturday morning and saw the AS bird lining up on rwy 19 (It was a Dreamliner c/s plane -- I don't know how many of those they have) and I heard "Alaska 5" on my scanner. Obviously SEA-DCA is a crown jewel for them but hearing that made me realize that they really take that route to heart (on the thought that they might reserve the low numbers for old line prestige routes).


User currently offlineSoxfan From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 862 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6168 times:

JetBlue's flights 1 and 9 are JFK-FLL, no flight 2, and flights 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 are between JFK-BUF. Any significance there?


Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2088 posts, RR: 15
Reply 20, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6161 times:

What happens after a fatal crash/accident (I know this is a morbid question) to the flight number? i.e. what happened to the likes of the 9/11? AA 77, UA 93, etc?


next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently offlineAirport From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6147 times:



Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 20):
What happens after a fatal crash/accident (I know this is a morbid question) to the flight number? i.e. what happened to the likes of the 9/11? AA 77, UA 93, etc?

They were promptly retired. A flyertalk posted dated back to 1998 stated that UA actually had a flight 911 that went into New York (he/she didn't specify which airport), and I assume that was also retired.


User currently offlineSANFan From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 5221 posts, RR: 14
Reply 22, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 6119 times:



Quoting LAXintl (Reply 6):
For your UA881 example, United as with some other airlines (Cathay is one) make good use of number combinations on Asia flights which is are considered lucky numbers.

IIRC, a lot of the current intl flight numbers at UA come from Pan Am's nomenclature, do they not? Seems to me most of PA's pacific flights were all in the 800-899 range and UA has retained them.

In the old days ( old  ) many carriers did adhere to the convention that east and north departures were even numbers and west- and south-bound were odd. Making such orderly assignments easier then was the fact that most flights went essentially in one general direction, like SEA-ORD-JFK, SAN-SFO-PDX, unlike, e.g., WN running flights these days that run SEA-RNO-SAN-HOU-MCO-PHL-MHT!

bb


User currently offlineJohnClipper From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2005, 826 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 6110 times:

Yes, UA took all PA flight numbers and just used them...both in Asia and South America. PA 800s series were Asian flights and PA 200s and 400s were South Amercan flights. PA 440 to GIG turned into UA 440 to GIG...

AA's South American flights in the 900 series range came from EA's 900 series. I would have to check my BI schedules to see if the original BI South American routes were also in the 900 series.


User currently offlineB2468 From United States of America, joined Sep 2009, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (4 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5980 times:

I don't know if it is true now, but it was true in the not too distant past, that in China, train numbers were odd or even based on whether the train's destination was closer to, or further from Beijing than the origin (I don't remember which direction was odd or even).

Does anyone know if this logic was/is applied to flight numbers in mainland China?



Dash-8/ERJ/306/310/319/320/332/333/343/346/388/72S/731/732/733/734/73G/738/741/744/74E/752/762/763/77E/77W/DC9/D1C/M82
25 Mtaabq : This is a fun thread! I had to think about IND and CMH for 5 whole minutes before I got the significance, LOL. I'm a little slow on the up-take this m
26 Soxfan : I wonder if there is, or has been, a flight 1918, 2004, or 2007 to/from Boston...
27 Aeolus : You know, it's like that in BA the flight LHR-MEX 242 (out of hub) and MEX-LHR 243 (to hub). -Aeolus
28 BMI727 : And then the ruined it by allowing the flight number to be applied to the A318 flights. It is generally retired. Some ill fated flight numbers from d
29 LHCVG : Same thing happened to me at first!
30 Bohica : One night I was in JFK terminal 4 in 2005 and heard a boarding announcement for Eurofly flight 911 to MXP. I walked to the gate to confirm what I hea
31 Maverick623 : For US, because of the numbering scheme to keep East and West planes/crews seperate, flight 1 operates PHX-ORD. However, the first available numbers
32 Tockeyhockey : UA has always used 001 for their ORD to HNL flight. is it their "signature" flight? or is it their most profitable? what's the deal?
33 Ttailfan : I used to think, and in many cases...they still hold to, that odd numbers were west and south, even north and east. However, there are exceptions to e
34 Purplebox : Not true - back in 2002 I took UA1 from LHR to IAD (B747). This was 'capital' to 'capital' and so was prestigious, but I also recall that it was used
35 Crjflyer35 : US has a PHX-IND flight with the 500 number as well.
36 Timz : UA 1 was LAX-HKG-DEL-LHR-IAD-LAX starting in March? 2001. I didn't think it lasted into 2002 on that route, but maybe so.
37 BOACCunard : AA1 and AA2 might be the longest-running flight number/route combination, JFK-LAX-JFK (IWD-LAX-IWD originally) since 1953. AA1 was the first nonstop t
38 N1120A : Wasn't always. They are immediately retired. Yes. 800s over the Pacific, 900s over the Atlantic. UA1/2 carried the tradition of PA1/2, being a RTW fl
39 PWMRamper : Wasn't UA1 the first nonstop from anything but the west coast to Hawaii? Hence #1.
40 KingFriday013 : I remember flying AA 107 a while back, LHR-JFK. We were bumped onto it from VS. Speaking of VS, VS 001 is LHR-EWR. I thought that was curious; why do
41 Timz : AA2 was first. When they first started 707 flights they couldn't have 707 morning departures from both LAX and IDL, so Flight 1 ended for a couple of
42 Aircellist : Air Inter, in France, had an interesting 4-digit system: the first digit was about the fare level of the plane, from 4 to 7, with 4 being the flights
43 Je89_w : Before the ORD-HNL route became UA1 in June 2004, there was a period with no ORD-HNL service. Before that, UA43 (operated by the DC-10) flew ORD-HNL
44 Viscount724 : That's not correct. BA applies the IATA numbering convention, even eastbound and odd westbound, at least on transatlantic flights,not the "from hub a
45 VV701 : There is some logic to BA flight numbers but it is not as simple as this. Long haul intercontinental flights are, indeed, odd numbered out of the hub
46 JohnClipper : Only 800 series. Pan Am did not use 900 series for Atlantic. They were all low-digit flights. Since UA already had low-digit flights, they used the 9
47 MAH4546 : Sometimes airlines do get clever. Spirit uses "777" on Fort Lauderdale-Las Vegas.
48 N1120A : Probably a 741 or 742.
49 CitationJet : I have Braniff (BN) schedules going back to 1940. Braniff started using 900 series for South America in the late 1950's. All of Braniff's jet flights
50 BMI727 : And TW 1 was STL-HNL for many years. I know that UA flew DC-8s before that. They had a gate specially decorated in a Hawaiian motif for the flight.
51 ScottB : For Southwest, flights 1 and 2 (as well as most flight numbers under 60) operate DAL-HOU and HOU-DAL respectively (odd from DAL, even to DAL). This, o
52 Timz : The 2/71 OAG shows a 747 on the nonstop; it may have reverted to DC-8 now and then, but widebodies were the norm thereafter. AFAIK JFK-HNL was always
53 Post contains links EXTspotter : Easy! The first ever flight of VS was LGW - EWR, of course they moved into LHR, but that flight AFAIK has always been VS1. Watch the VS 25 years adve
54 Cubsrule : Above 60, is there any pattern? I've never been able to discern one - even with the smaller numbers
55 BMI727 : Maybe I was thinking of another airport with the special, but I could have sworn that someone said in another thread it was ORD. I think they said it
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