Soxfan
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Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:05 pm

On a recent flight BOS-DTW the plane I was on-- a 757-200--was scheduled to continue on to LAX with the same flight number. However, upon arriving in DTW we were informed that the continuing flight would be departing from a gate at the opposite end of the terminal, which also had the same type of 757. (And, to boot, although my plane arrived from Boston on time, the connecting flight was delayed an hour due to a late inbound aircraft). The aircraft I was on ended up continuing to SFO under a different flight number.

As I have seen this happen in other cases, I'm curious as to why this is IF the same type of plane is used for the connection. It makes sense that an international 777 could keep the same flight number but change to a 737 or 757 for a domestic portion, but what if the aircraft type is the same? I would imagine that this would be a hassle for passengers changing gates, increase the potential for a delay as stated above, as well as increase the potential for luggage to be lost in the transfer. Also, what if (hypothetically) the inbound plane to DTW was significantly delayed so as to miss the connection, while the connecting flight departed on time sans-the passengers who originated in Boston and were connecting?

Soxfan  Smile
Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
 
EMBQA
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Numbe

Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:08 pm

Could very well have been a mechanical issue with your first plane and it could not continue. If you got off the plane in DTW, how do you know it continued on to SFO..? Did you stay and watch it board and depart..?

[Edited 2008-06-03 13:12:15]
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
beeweel15
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:25 pm



Quoting Soxfan (Thread starter):
As I have seen this happen in other cases, I'm curious as to why this is IF the same type of plane is used for the connection. It makes sense that an international 777 could keep the same flight number but change to a 737 or 757 for a domestic portion, but what if the aircraft type is the same? I would imagine that this would be a hassle for passengers changing gates, increase the potential for a delay as stated above, as well as increase the potential for luggage to be lost in the transfer.

Well if the aircraft arrives internationally it has to be cleared by US customs you got to remove international garbage at the point of entry all passengers and crew have to be cleared by US Immigration etc So it would be better to have a fresh aircraft waiting to continue the flight after all that is done. Plus it saves you time plus the aircraft might be the same but configured differently as it is used as a domestic aircraft.
 
Soxfan
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:27 pm



Quoting EMBQA (Reply 1):
Could very well have been a mechanical issue with your first plane and it could not continue. If you got off the plane in DTW, how do you know it continued on to SFO..? Did you stay and watch it board and depart..?

I actually had seen on the website before that the plane to LAX would depart from a different gate...the reason I knew that my plane was continuing to SFO was upon disembarking I looked at the gate information screen and saw that my plane's destination was SFO, departing around the same time. So, in this case I doubt it was mechanical.

As another example, the Northwest Airlines website shows that, today, flight 1226 from Denver to Detroit (A320) arrived on time at gate A12, while the connecting flight to Hartford, with the same flight number and aircraft type is scheduled to depart from gate A69. Or, even looking at tomorrow, flight 1776 MKE-DTW (A320) arrives at gate A75, while the connecting flight to PHL (same flight number and aircraft type) departs from gate A28.
Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
 
Soxfan
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:29 pm



Quoting Beeweel15 (Reply 2):
Well if the aircraft arrives internationally it has to be cleared by US customs you got to remove international garbage at the point of entry all passengers and crew have to be cleared by US Immigration etc So it would be better to have a fresh aircraft waiting to continue the flight after all that is done. Plus it saves you time plus the aircraft might be the same but configured differently as it is used as a domestic aircraft.

Correct, and in addition, if the international flight arrived into JFK as a 777, and the same flight number continued to, say, STL, it wouldn't make sense to continue the 777, and instead have a smaller aircraft run the trip from New York to St. Louis.
Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
 
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mayor
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:33 pm

Aircraft scheduling is one of those "black" arts and it's best not to delve into it too deeply.

When I worked the ramp coordinator's office in SLC, it would befuddle me why some a/c were scheduled as they were. I still believe that scheduling is in their own little world and they believe it's up to the rest of us to work our way around what they do.
"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary"----Fred Allen
 
xtoler
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:50 pm

That's pretty common. The smart ass answer is just to make it harder for pax and some of us crew also working the same flight number, but tail swapping. In reality though, it's just to reposition a certain aircraft. For example, an aircraft has been flying for about three days away from it's home base/bases (in my case RIC and STL had hangars, and a mx detatchement in PIT). We put a lot of flight hours on these planes and there is a lot of regular preventative maintanence that needs to be performed on our aircraft that we can only do at a specific base. Usually this is all planned well in advance by the airline.

There are also many instances where a flight will operate under more than one flight number, especially if you are flying say from RIC to FRA. You could be on flight 8010 from RIC to IAD also operating under flight 920 from IAD to FRA. Pay attention to that too, especially if you are leaving from a smaller airport to get to a hub airport and then onto your final destination.

Here's a bonus, for what it's worth, sometimes you'll have the same crew and the same aircraft for two different flights. Sorry, sometimes I have to chase you guys off the plane, that's just so I can clean it up and we don't need to get in each other's way. A lot of times we'll change aircraft just with the pax and you'll see us again on the next leg of your journey. I had pax following us around IAD once from one flight to a quick connection from C gates to G gates, and come to find out our gate changed to D gates and no one told us anything. The cool thing about it, I had half a flight of pax following us around and they got to see what crew gets to put up with sometimes. At least we still got home to RIC on time, but I got to give a somewhat grand tour of C, D, and G gates at IAD.

Speaking of that, here's another tip, gate assignments are tentative and not set in stone. It's really frustrating for everyone involved from the passenger, gate agent, ground crew, and flight crew when things changed at the last minute and someone in ramp coordination drops the ball and doesn't tell us. But that's life in the airline biz.
EMB145 F/A, F/E, J41 F/A, F/E, because my wife clipped my wings, armchair captain
 
ikramerica
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:54 pm

Maybe one aircraft needed to get to LAX or SFO for some other reason, like a maintenance base there, a charter, or some other reason.

Or maybe they just want to make all the pax walk a long distance to burn off some weight, and save 10 cents per pax on fuel costs.

Or, the most likely scenario, is you went through a hub, and maybe 20 of the people on your flight were actually going to LAX, so only 20 of you had to walk that far, while everyone else was going lord knows where. Some were probably thrilled to find out that their SFO flight was at the same gate!  Wink

Not to mention that the crews weren't going to be the same either.
Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
 
xtoler
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:02 pm



Quoting Mayor (Reply 5):
Aircraft scheduling is one of those "black" arts and it's best not to delve into it too deeply.

I wouldn't call it "black arts", but yeah, a lot of crew do think of it as that. I'm lucky when I did my stint in ATOC with the AF I got to see the whole picture. Maybe in the civilian world between mx job control and an airlift coordination center, as well as load planners, wx people, along with the aerial port coordinator worked together, instead of being separate entities things would work a little smoother. That's the biggest problem I've seen since being in the civilain airline biz and trying to work with an airport. Everyone treats everyone as outsiders at the airport level. Short of running a government airline like AMC, I just wish there could be a little more communication between the airlines and the local airport authority and be able to work side by side.
EMB145 F/A, F/E, J41 F/A, F/E, because my wife clipped my wings, armchair captain
 
Soxfan
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:03 pm



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 7):
Or maybe they just want to make all the pax walk a long distance to burn off some weight, and save 10 cents per pax on fuel costs.

That's a good thought, but unfortunately many of those people connecting at DTW who need to walk would probably take the high-speed tram. Oh, well  Smile
Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
 
EMBQA
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:30 pm



Quoting Soxfan (Reply 3):
upon disembarking I looked at the gate information screen and saw that my plane's destination was SFO, departing around the same time. So, in this case I doubt it was mechanical.

Nothing says they didn't push it off the gate after you walked away and replaced it with a new plane
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
smcmac32msn
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:50 am



Quoting EMBQA (Reply 10):
Nothing says they didn't push it off the gate after you walked away and replaced it with a new plane

Wouldn't that be a huge waste of gas??? We're all trying to save money and gas, so that's highly unlikely. Why park a plane at a particular gate, just to move it after being deboarded, if you're not going to load it and send it on its way first?
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Tristarsteve
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:49 am

I once worked in Maintenance Control for a smallish airline, and it was our job to allocate aircraft to flights. The reason we did it was that we also planned the maintenance, so it was in our interest to get the right aircraft at the right place when the checks became due. We did not really have a hub, the aircraft flew around and sometimes only touched main base now and then. When we had say a monthly check planned we sometimes had to be creative in getting the aircraft into the hangar. Quite often we picked a line station where two aircraft were on the ground at the same time, and swapped them over during their transit. It was quite an art.The A check was every 300hours. We made every effort to get the aircraft to land at main base with at least 290 hours on the clock, but if it went over 300 then we needed a dispensation and our quality were not happy.
We also had to take account of MEL items that restricted the aircraft and get these back to the hangar to be fixed. Usually there was not a lot of slack to take care of through flights on the same aircraft.
 
Mir
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:42 am



Quoting Smcmac32msn (Reply 11):
Quoting EMBQA (Reply 10):
Nothing says they didn't push it off the gate after you walked away and replaced it with a new plane

Wouldn't that be a huge waste of gas??? We're all trying to save money and gas, so that's highly unlikely. Why park a plane at a particular gate, just to move it after being deboarded, if you're not going to load it and send it on its way first?

They have to get the passengers off somehow. Parking it right at the maintenance areas and letting the passengers off there isn't really an option. Doing the maintenance at the gate may not be an option, or they may need that gate for another plane. Parking it at a gate, unloading it, and then towing it to maintenance is the most logical solution.

-Mir
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Dalmd88
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Wed Jun 04, 2008 3:58 pm

The plane you flew BOS-DTW was most likley routed into BOS just to get an A Check. DTW was a good opportunity to get that aircraft off that routing and get another one cycled in. On most days the BOS-DTW plane might very well continue on to LAX.
 
HikesWithEyes
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:57 pm

As mentioned in a couple of posts, planned overnight maintenance was
most likely the reason for the change of equipment.
All aircraft have maintenance work that is based on hours/days/months, so
one of the aircraft probably needed to be routed to an MX base for overnight work.
In addition, it is possible that one aircraft developed an MEL problem that wouldn't
work for the forecast weather at the original city it was supposed to fly to.
SFO might have had icing in the forecast, but LAX didn't so that could explain the
aircraft swap.
First, benzene in my Perrier, and now this!
 
Soxfan
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:01 pm



Quoting DALMD88 (Reply 14):
The plane you flew BOS-DTW was most likley routed into BOS just to get an A Check. DTW was a good opportunity to get that aircraft off that routing and get another one cycled in. On most days the BOS-DTW plane might very well continue on to LAX.

Are you saying the A-check took place in Boston? If so, how long do A-checks usually take? The plane I flew arrived from DTW to BOS and turned around in about an hour for a scheduled departure back to DTW (and then on to SFO). The following day, the aircraft from BOS-DTW continued to LAX with the same flight number.

Quoting EMBQA (Reply 10):
Nothing says they didn't push it off the gate after you walked away and replaced it with a new plane

The connection time in DTW from the BOS arrival to the DTW departure was about an hour and was scheduled to be on time, so I doubt somewhat that this was the case. It's possible, but I feel very unlikely given the short connection time.
Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
 
Tristarsteve
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:55 pm



Quoting Soxfan (Reply 16):
If so, how long do A-checks usually take?

Sorry but that question is as good as How long is a piece of string?.
A checks are a number of tasks an inspections that need to be carried out. If you have 30 mechanics and a brand new plane, it might take an hour. With two mechanics and an old plane it may take two days.
What is important is that the aircraft must be at the same place as the mechanics!
 
Dalmd88
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:09 pm



Quoting Soxfan (Reply 16):
Are you saying the A-check took place in Boston?

Yes, they do A checks in BOS. A checks require an overnight visit. I was thinking the plane had overnighted here. It still might have in the couple of nights before your flight. Some routings take a plane back and forth between cities like that.
 
lincoln
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:09 am

NW loves doing this at DTW, and for some reason the continuing flight is always at the opposite end of the concourse.

One time I was on a DC-9-50 ORD-DTW with continuning service to some city in Canada- after landing at DTW (A16, IIRC), I noticted the FIDS showed the destination for the next departure as ORD.

Looked up the flight number, and it was departing out of a 'high A' (A60-something?) -- check the schedule, also a DC-9-50. The flight sitting at that gate had arrived from the same Canadian city (with the same flight number as was shown for the outbound ORD flight).

I.e. aircraft A at Gate A16 did ORD-DTW-ORD while aircraft B at Gate A60 did Canada-DTW-Canada.

Every time I connect in DTW I wind up with a three-hour connection, so I've spent plenty of time observing this phenomena to kill time, but never understood the "Why", especially with the labor involved in offloading any through luggage and reloading it.
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Soxfan
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:26 am

Thanks for your comments about the A-checks...if the NW website serves me correctly:

-The plane (517US, a 757-200R I think) began the day in MCO, then took a trip to DTW arriving at 12:30p.m. Then:
-Departed on the 1:32p.m. flight to Boston, arriving at 3:25p.m.
-Turned around for an on-time departure at 4:20p.m. back to DTW, arriving at 6:30p.m.

Had it kept the same flight number, it would have departed DTW at 7:38p.m. to LAX, arriving at 9:35p.m. and turned around for the 12:34a.m. flight back to DTW, arriving at 8:06a.m. (so no RON in LAX)

Instead, it traveled on the 7:09p.m. departure to SFO, arriving at SFO at 9:17p.m. and: AHA! it looks like it would RON until the 6:26a.m. departure to MSP the next morning.

That could crack the case! (Please correct me if I'm wrong). It still doesn't answer the question, though, of why tail 1 would arrive at gate A76 and tail 2 with the same flight number would depart from gate A2. Perhaps Richard Simmons is at the controls?  Wink
Pilot: "Request push, which way should we face?" JFK Ground: "You better face the front, sir, or you'll scare the pax!"
 
Maverick623
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RE: Why Aircraft Change If Same Plane/Flight Number?

Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:33 am



Quoting Soxfan (Reply 20):
It still doesn't answer the question, though, of why tail 1 would arrive at gate A76 and tail 2 with the same flight number would depart from gate A2.

Simple:

Quoting Xtoler (Reply 8):
. That's the biggest problem I've seen since being in the civilain airline biz and trying to work with an airport. Everyone treats everyone as outsiders at the airport level.

No one bothers communicating with anyone outside their department, or thinking about what passengers might go through (because they don't listen to their whining or yelling).

[rant]
It's one of the more frustraing aspects of my job.... mostly because I don't even have to go out of my way to learn how and why certain things are done, yet everyone else doesn't bother. It's them vs. us.

[/rant]
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