IndustryInsider
Topic Author
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United Flight Number Ranges...

Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:48 pm

My son is doing a research paper regarding the aviation industry consolidation and a section of his paper specifically details flight number ranges. As we all know, each carrier is limited to 9,999 flight numbers and the specific focus of this subsection is geared towards how merged airlines consolidate their flight numbers as a whole. This includes all mainline, regional partners and codeshare/alliances.

I've been provided information for US, DL and AA but I'm still looking for the United 1-9999 flight number ranges which, due to the recent merger with CO, is going to be a large example within his thesis. Ideally, just so it is an apples-apples comparison, he would want all flight numbers within the 9,999 range just so he can see what is allocated for sale, administration/testing purposes, extra section, repo flights, charters and the like. This would allow him to directly compare across carriers the normal use of numbers and will also allow him to consider how airlines propose to grow in the future.

By the way, when is the industry ever going to allow carriers to have more than 10,000 flight numbers?  

[Edited 2012-07-21 12:51:27]
 
jgarrido
Posts: 258
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RE: United Flight Number Ranges...

Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:19 am

Quoting IndustryInsider (Thread starter):
By the way, when is the industry ever going to allow carriers to have more than 10,000 flight numbers?

I don't know of any industry limitation to 9,999 flight numbers. I just don't think there's a need. However the ATC system in the US and I assume in the world only allows for 7 characters in the callsign. Air carriers all have 3 letter abbreviations for use in ATC, e.g. UAL, DAL, AAL, QFA, ANA, KAP. That of course only leaves 4 characters left for the flight number. I supposed it would be possible to have more then 9,999 by using alpha-numerics (AAL3D5). This does happen from time to time. If there's a severe delay or other unusual event and they are worried about having the same flight number airborne at the same time they'll stick a letter at the end of the number QFA21A or UAL201D

[Edited 2012-07-21 21:21:12]
 
united319
Posts: 446
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RE: United Flight Number Ranges...

Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:59 pm

I know there is a pattern to some of the flight numbers.

UA1000-3999 (they don't go that far up) are CO Birds.
UA200-999 are UA Metal
UA1-199 are mixed between CO and UA.

UA int'l flights are in the 800-999 range.
CO int'l flights are in the 1-199 range.

UA4000-8000 are UAX.

I know part of this is probably wrong but in general that is what I am seeing right now. I think there are some mixes in the 1-199 ranges. But I do know for a fact that the higher 3 digit flight numbers are on a UA aircraft and the 1000 flight numbers are on a CO aircraft.

It will be interesting to see after things are more combined which flights numbers they will make their int'l routes. sCO always did low numbers and sUA did high numbers.
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September11
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RE: United Flight Number Ranges...

Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:43 pm

A friend of mine told me that he thinks we will see 5 digit flight numbers in the near future. He said that code-sharing flights are increasing.. I feel 5 digit flight numbers is too long.
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IAHFLYR
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RE: United Flight Number Ranges...

Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:31 pm

Quoting September11 (Reply 3):
A friend of mine told me that he thinks we will see 5 digit flight numbers in the near future. He said that code-sharing flights are increasing.. I feel 5 digit flight numbers is too long.



An eight character airline and flight number won't work within the existing ATC system in the U.S. Currently you have a maximum of seven characters such as UAL1234, so if the above mentioned five digit flight numbers some number would have to be dropped. Maybe that is part of NextGen?   
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IndustryInsider
Topic Author
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RE: United Flight Number Ranges...

Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:35 am

Thanks all! I'm still looking for a comprehensive UA list, but I'm also happy for the information already shared.

Quoting jgarrido (Reply 1):
I don't know of any industry limitation to 9,999 flight numbers.

Actually there really is an industry limitation to 9,999 flight numbers. It's due to the antiquated systems that the GDSs and airlines all use which forces this. It would costs the aviation industry as a whole tens of billions of dollars to upgrade to either 5+ digit flight numbers or alpha-numeric flight numbers. While it seems like an easy change, it's not.

Quoting September11 (Reply 3):

A friend of mine told me that he thinks we will see 5 digit flight numbers in the near future. He said that code-sharing flights are increasing

Oh, I'm well aware of the sheer volume of codeshare flights that the large carriers have on each other.   I do consulting work for airlines around the world when it comes to this aspect, so I have a very unique perspective when it comes to the practice of codesharing. Unfortunately, the 9,999 flight number restriction is a big hindrance when it comes to expanding codeshares when you look at the large airlines like DL. Not only do you have to balance your own mainline and regional needs while keeping an eye to the future, but you also have to be mindful of the volume (and benefit) of associated codeshares too. Filling in white space on your network's map using codeshares does an airline no good if they are of low quality.

A couple years ago, one of the major US airlines floated an idea of using a secondary carrier code to help expand the flight numbers allowed for codesharing. For example, assume carrier "XX" could use the airline code "XX" for mainline and regional and "X2" for XX's codeshares/allinaces. That would be a total of 19,998 flight numbers which could be used. Of course, the industry shot this idea down. This is one of the reasons you see major carriers starting to use creative ideas such as DL's use of one flight number hub to spoke and back to the hub.

Again, thanks to all who have been giving my son input into his paper. Please keep the information coming!  

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