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Lots Of Empty Seats On Post-Volcano Return  
User currently offlinescutfarcus From United States of America, joined May 2000, 387 posts, RR: 1
Posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 17361 times:

Howdy. I was delayed for 5 days in Berlin last week (actually turned out to be rather fun). I was finally put on United 927 from FRA to SFO last Thursday evening.

I was surprised that the flight was hardly full. I had no one next to me and could see numerous empty seats. Business class looks barely half full.

Even more surprising, 5 of my colleagues, going to various other US destinations about the same time on various airlines, but all originating in Berlin, reported their flights surprisingly not packed as well.

With 1000s of people supposedly stranded, can anyone offer an explanation?

[Edited 2010-04-25 13:01:34]

27 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineshamrock321 From Ireland, joined May 2008, 1586 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 17108 times:

No idea but I can tell you that DLs ATL-DUB flight arriving last Wedensday was the same, the JFK was busier, IB sent A321 to DUB instead of A320 and it wasnt full either.

Other told me about flights with just double figures, so I dunno what happened. I can understand shoerter flight like Ireland-UK being no busier but surely intercontinental flights should be packed?


User currently offlineSP90 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 388 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 17078 times:

I could think of two off the top of my head.

1. Some of the people traveling to the US probably found alternate routes around the ash cloud and got home already.
2. A good bunch of people volunteered to postpone their travel on the day(s) you and your colleagues flew out.


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24061 posts, RR: 23
Reply 3, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 16939 times:

Many passengers originally booked on the flight you travelled on have probably cancelled their trips completely or postpned them, thus resulting in empty seats. After an event like that many people are nervous about flying to avoid getting caught in a repeat of last week's situation. Other passengers would have cancelled their trips since they would have been too late for whatever events they may have been planning to attend (conventions, weddings, funerals etc.)

User currently offlineburnsie28 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 7502 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 16311 times:

It could also be the fact that many airlines flew extra sections through other cities and got people that way.


"Some People Just Know How To Fly"- Best slogan ever, RIP NW 1926-2009
User currently offlinedangould2000 From UK - Scotland, joined Dec 2005, 172 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 15982 times:

the past few days, FR flights in the canaries have been packed,

just the other day FUE-PIK was booked at 261, even though we could obviously only take 189



Next Flights:- wherever the airline sends me
User currently offlineJFKPurser From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 478 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 15290 times:

On the second day operations had resumed at LHR, I worked LHR-JFK and there were at least 40 empty in Y, 20 empty in C and 12 empty in F. According to staff at LHR, this had been going on all day to all destinations flow by my airline. They had no reasonable explanation for this. Colleagues have been reporting similarly for the last few days now. The only think I can think of is that inbound connections from the rest of Europe are so backlogged that there is no way these people can connect to the transatlantic leg of their journey home.

User currently offlineSevenHeavy From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 1146 posts, RR: 10
Reply 7, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 12573 times:

There are a couple of reasons for this; Firstly, the disruption started right at the end of the European Easter holidays, when traffic was declining markedly. Thus, many were simply able to rebook on flights with availability. Secondly, the disruption went on for so long that many decided to cancel their trips altogether and rebook for another time (this is particularly true for short stay and business destinations like NYC, BOS, ORD). Thirdly, many passengers were holding multiple reservations, and airlines are employing various means of restricting new bookings, meaning the booked loads show flights as full but the "no shows" are many times higher that would usually be the case.

The situation is very different coming back from the U.S. Most flights were full, mainly with Europeans returning from Easter vacations.



So long 701, it was nice knowing you.
User currently offlineslz396 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 12362 times:

It's a phenomenon noticed throughout the industry these days, both on long haul as well as medium or short haul, and it seems nobody has a plausible explanation for it really.

One thing is for sure: it is not the airlines trying to make their planes look fuller then they are (and thus force stranded pax pay more money for a last minute ticket). At reporting time, booking numbers look great and the plane is fueled and catered in function on the expected load, yet once the flight is closed, it goes out with way less pax then foreseen.

This is not due to large number of pax missing connecting flights or people being booked onto another flight or taking another way to get to their destination or something, because those would all be entered in the system; it's really people changing their travel plans without informing anybody.

The one most likely explanation to me is that a lot of people held cheap inflexible tickets booked already months in advance, yet are not in a position to travel right now, because they are:
-) not in the right place because of the previous disruptions
-) out of money due to a forced longer stay abroad
-) simply afraid to travel and risk getting stuck

Whatever the reason, it is really annoying for the airlines, because whereas otherwise the booking numbers give a good idea of the loads to be expected on a flight, these days, there could be a 30% difference even and planes are over-catered, over-fueled and leave behind cargo which could actually very easily have been taken onboard too as a consequence...


User currently offlineBen175 From Australia, joined Jul 2008, 655 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 12117 times:

My friend was stranded in Milan and had to get to PER. The quickest routing was: MXP-DXB-CMB-SIN-MEL-PER, you could get nothing else due to all flights being completely full.

User currently offlineSevenHeavy From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 1146 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 11824 times:

Quoting slz396 (Reply 8):
It's a phenomenon noticed throughout the industry these days, both on long haul as well as medium or short haul, and it seems nobody has a plausible explanation for it really.

This is certainly true at the moment due to the unprecedented number of passengers requiring reprotection onto other flights.

However, on a more general basis airlines have got much better at controlling their booked loads / no shows than in the past. Even on traditionally notorious routes like LHR-JFK the no show factors are far less than they were a few years ago. It would not have been unheard of to see no shows of >10% back in the late nineties. Now that figure is more like 2-3%.

It used to be very easy to make duplicate, dummy or shell bookings. In some ways it still is, but most airlines now have sophisticated revenue management programs which perform "sweeps" and cleanup the bookings at various stages in a flights existence.



So long 701, it was nice knowing you.
User currently offlineslz396 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 11544 times:

Quoting SevenHeavy (Reply 10):
This is certainly true at the moment due to the unprecedented number of passengers requiring reprotection onto other flights.

However, on a more general basis airlines have got much better at controlling their booked loads / no shows than in the past. Even on traditionally notorious routes like LHR-JFK the no show factors are far less than they were a few years ago. It would not have been unheard of to see no shows of >10% back in the late nineties. Now that figure is more like 2-3%.

It used to be very easy to make duplicate, dummy or shell bookings. In some ways it still is, but most airlines now have sophisticated revenue management programs which perform "sweeps" and cleanup the bookings at various stages in a flights existence.

Indeed, which is why it is so weird to see the huge discrepancies between booking figures and actual loads on so many flights, these days and I am curious to know the reason for this (as well as the airlines, I am sure).

Anyway, I am particularly surprised by the length of time of this phenomenon; I would not have expected it to happen for more than 2 days, but although declining, it can still be seen today.

I am sure airlines will study this very closely to fine tune their booking software and reduce even further the number of missed opportunities for a ticket sale.


User currently offlineDutchBoeing From Netherlands, joined Apr 2010, 99 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 11544 times:

I was wondering about this too. I flew last Thursday (22 April) from Amsterdam via Zurich to Belgrade on Swiss and first of all, Schiphol was as calm as could be, nothing special to be noticed - only a day after full operations had started again. I was expecting chaos and braced myself for the worst (and packed / overbooked flights). Then, both flights were half empty! I would have expected at least the AMS-ZRH flight to be full. Things were also very normal at ZRH.
Return was yesterday (25APR), also 2 half empty flights and quiet airports, but that was of course already a few days later. Bit of an anti-climax really (actually, statement of Swiss ground staff in Amsterdam, they said all flights had been very quiet, even on Wednesday 21 April)... I was wondering whether the horror stories of the media about the 'packed flights-no seat to be had for days' were true... Of course all this is just 1 personal experience, but still...


User currently offlinebabybus From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 11357 times:

I was at Heathrow yesterday morning and it was really empty. There was no queue at security which was great. My flight only had about 14 people on it when I expected it to be full due to the backlog.

Can't imagine where all these passengers have disappeared to but I'm not complaining.


User currently offlinetommyy From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 64 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8816 times:

I flew out of LHR on AA Wednsday the 21st which was the first day they opened and I was schocked to see that LHR was empty, they had barricades and police outside expecting a crowd but there was none, there was no line at security and my flight to JFK had about 20 empty seats

User currently onlinebrilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 4055 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8690 times:

Quoting JFKPurser (Reply 6):
On the second day operations had resumed at LHR, I worked LHR-JFK and there were at least 40 empty in Y, 20 empty in C and 12 empty in F. According to staff at LHR, this had been going on all day to all destinations flow by my airline. They had no reasonable explanation for this. Colleagues have been reporting similarly for the last few days now. The only think I can think of is that inbound connections from the rest of Europe are so backlogged that there is no way these people can connect to the transatlantic leg of their journey home.

This is what was happening, people could not get to their connecting flights or were re-routed due to clearing up of the backlog of passengers.

Quoting slz396 (Reply 8):
It's a phenomenon noticed throughout the industry these days, both on long haul as well as medium or short haul, and it seems nobody has a plausible explanation for it really.

See above statements and opinions.



Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
User currently offlinehuaiwei From Singapore, joined Oct 2008, 1099 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8422 times:

Quoting slz396 (Reply 8):
Whatever the reason, it is really annoying for the airlines, because whereas otherwise the booking numbers give a good idea of the loads to be expected on a flight, these days, there could be a 30% difference even and planes are over-catered, over-fueled and leave behind cargo which could actually very easily have been taken onboard too as a consequence...

The situation even in SIN was no different. Even on the day when flights finally resumed, I recall how AF/KLM was supposed to fly a full flight back to Europe, with about 200 asked to wait at the airport in case of no-shows. In the end practically everyone got to board and left because of the massive number of no-shows.

Anyway perhaps this may also be due to the extra flights and capacity some airlines are operating, which helped clear the backlog much faster than anticipated?



It's huaiwei...not huawei. I have nothing to do with the PRC! :)
User currently offlinel33roy94 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2009, 86 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 6730 times:

I flew EDI-LTN on the day it was okay to fly... 21 pax on G-EZKC, 149 seater with 21 onboard including me... Good Flight though, spacious!


Easyjet all the way
User currently offlinebabybus From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 6616 times:

Quoting l33roy94 (Reply 17):
I flew EDI-LTN on the day it was okay to fly... 21 pax on G-EZKC, 149 seater with 21 onboard including me... Good Flight though, spacious!

That's interesting to note. So bang goes the thoery that empty flights are empty due to people missing their connections. LCC's don't normally have connecting traffic.

I guess a lot of people with outbounds just didn't fancy the idea of being away for a non-specific amount of time or maybe they just booked flights for the summer instead.


User currently offlineBongodog1964 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2006, 3469 posts, RR: 3
Reply 19, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6197 times:

One explanation, could be that many business travellers either postponed or cancelled their trips before the ban was lifted. With the ban having been in place since Thursday and no prediction of it lifting, I'm sure a lot of people took the decision on Monday to alter their plans for later in the week. Better to cancel with 24 or 48 hours notice, than to give the other end just a few hours later in the week.

User currently offlineMANmatt From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 969 posts, RR: 6
Reply 20, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6074 times:

Same thing going on with my flights out of MAN to 2 of Europe's main hubs. Before the ban I would have been concerned if a flight was overbooked by say about 7-10 passengers, now I wouldn't be concerned unless it was near 20! The no-show rate has been unbelieveable over the last 3-4 days. In fact, I had 39 no-shows on one flight yesterday!

MM


User currently offlineFCAFLYBOY From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2006, 582 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 5907 times:

I think the issue of flights booked solid really relates much more to trunk longh-haul routes, some hubs, but likely
places such as ANU/BKK/BGI/MCO/SFO etc etc which have usually just 1/2 flights per day (read 3 per week for ANU)
by any one airline.

If you suddenly have 6 days worth of flights cancelled, you have just 1 a/c to clear 1200 odd pax, as in BA's
case for ANU.

This is where the trouble is, not MAN/GVA/BEG/LHR etc etc...

Soemone I know has been told by QF she can;t fly home until May 16th! (BKK)


User currently offlinel33roy94 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2009, 86 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4530 times:

Before my flight there way a B734 BA going from EDI-LGW with 14 pax! how is that making money? your better off being grounded still...


Easyjet all the way
User currently offlineworldtraveler From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4218 times:

When there are large scale disruptions just about anywhere, people tend to book whatever they can as protection and often end up doing something different - or book multiple dates since when the shutdown would end was very uncertain.

I'm sure most revenue management teams will toss alot of data out for the past several weeks to/from Europe; it is so unlike normal and it will take time before it returns to normal that trying to use the data from the past several weeks (even after things returned to the air) for forecasting purposes is risky.


User currently offlinesr176 From Switzerland, joined Feb 2001, 409 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 3746 times:

I flew from SIN to ROM on Thursday April 22 and all flights direction Europe were packed and overbooked.

25 brilondon : The fact that a plane hs so very few people on it does not mean that is how many tickets were sold on the flight. As you know the rail system in Grea
26 javibi : Flew an IB A321 ORY-MAD the day ORY reopened with a total of 4 passengers; the flight was supposedly fully booked. I guess most people found alternati
27 Aussie_ : I flew back on EK HAM-DXB-SYD last Sunday. Despite being told the plane was full, the 77W flight from HAM had about 130 empty seats - I had a very com
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