UA has many flight numbers which tag-on a domestic leg to an international flight. This allows UA to claim "direct flights" even if there is a change of the aircraft for the domestic leg. For example, UA 898 is a "direct" flight from PEK to BOS with a stopover in IAD. PEK to IAD is operated by a B772. IAD to BOS is typically A320, though it is sometimes operated by a A319, B737 or B757.
At the time of this post (Nov 30, 2008) if you look at FlightAware's history of UAL898, you will see that the aircraft type for the international leg ZBAA to KIAD (PEK to IAD) is showing up as the same aircraft type as the domestic leg (IAD to BOS). FlightAware claim that what you see on their screens is unmodified from what they receive from the FAA - so the error is in the FAA flight plan data.
There seem to be only three possibilities
a) The a/c type error is in the data that UAL submits to the FAA
b) UAL files correct a/c type, FAA changes it and outputs incorrect a/c type in their feed
c) FAA feed output has correct a/c type, FlightAware displays it incorrectly.
Is it possible to verify (from a source other than FlightAware) whether or not UAL has *really* been filing flight plans with "A320" as the aircraft type for UAL898 ZBAA to KIAD ?
(Edited to enumerate possibilities)
[Edited 2008-11-30 09:59:58]