Surprising things you probably didn't know about your flight number

Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Capetonian
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 8874
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:44 am
Location: Enjoying the self-destruction of the EU.
Gender:
Age: 65

Surprising things you probably didn't know about your flight number

#1 Post by Capetonian » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:38 pm

The title is a bit patronising but that's what the Telegraph chose, not I.
They are such a fundamental part of the modern airport experience that you might almost have forgotten they exist - scanning down the terminal departures board for the name of your destination, and all but overlooking the small combination of digits and numbers that waits alongside.

But a flight number is more than a random departure code for a plane scheduled to wing its way from one long runway to another. At least, some of them are; little nuggets of data and information with stories to tell. Such as...

AA1
Airlines often save the first number for one of their most prestigious routes. In the case of American Airlines, this is the connection between John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and Los Angeles International. AA2 is the return service from California.

QF1
Qantas plays the same game. QF1 is its Sydney-Heathrow service, via Singapore.

BA1
British Airways also takes this approach. BA001 used to be its blue-riband flight from Heathrow to JFK on Concorde. The number still exists, and still adorns a celebrated service. Except that now, it's the business-class only link from London City to JFK via Shannon - a connection where passengers clear US immigration in advance in Ireland.

Air New Zealand's number one flight links London and Auckland via LA; United's flies from San Francisco to Singapore; El Al's goes from Tel Aviv to New York City.

AA10
Traditionally, even flight numbers are used by US carriers for eastbound or northbound services and odd numbers are reserved for westbound and southbound flights. For example, AA10 (as well as AA292, AA118, AA2, AA4...) takes passengers with American Airlines from LA to New York City, while AA33, AA255, and so on, go in the opposite direction.
BA001 used to fly from Heathrow to JFK on Concorde

BA364
A number can often be an indication of destination. A British Airways flight with 36 or 37 as its first two digits will be on French soil at some point. BA364 goes from Heathrow to Lyon. BA373 is a quick two-hour hop between Toulouse and Heathrow.

BA901
By the same token, British Airways services where the first number is a nine will be flying either to or from Germany. BA901 dashes from Frankfurt to Heathrow. BA995 wings its way from Berlin Tegel to London's biggest airport.
Heading to France with BA? Your flight number will probably start with 36 or 37

BA007
Searching for a Bond connection in the (double-o) seventh flight in BA's roster? You need to look towards the fifth movie in the franchise - 1967's You Only Live Twice. This is the movie where 007 (Sean Connery) visits this flight's end destination, Tokyo.

VS4047
Four-digit numbers generally indicate a codeshare service. In this case, the Virgin Atlantic connection from Heathrow to Atlanta, which is also a Delta flight - DL29.
BA007? It flies to Tokyo

MH360
Airlines generally retire a flight number if that service suffers a fatal accident. Thus MH360 is the Malaysian Airlines service between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing - it used to be the now infamous MH370. The return leg, formerly MH371, is now MH361.

UA717
The same alteration occurred with all four flights which crashed on September 11. UA717 - rather than UA175 - is now the number for the United Airlines link between Boston Logan and LAX, which struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

AA1776
Some numbers have more celebratory stories. The American Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Boston has the number 1776 in tribute to the year that the US Declaration of Independence was signed in the take-off city. On July 4, of course.
AA1776 goes to Philly. Clever

UA500
Some shameless playing to the gallery here from United Airlines - its flight from Indianapolis to San Francisco is so-numbered in salute to the Indianapolis 500 car race.

UA888
Eight is seen as a lucky number in Asia. The United Airlines flight between San Francisco and Beijing hedges no bets by including three cases of the fortunate figure.
The number 8 is lucky in China

B6 66
The space between the sixes in the number for the JetBlue flight from Albuquerque to JFK is there for two reasons. First, it avoids the prospect of a link carrying the devilish number 666. Secondly, it brings in a 66. As in Route 66 - on which Albuquerque sits.

QF666
Generally, airlines avoid the number of the beast. So this Qantas flight number does not exist. Nor, as another example, does QF13. Thirteen is, of course, an unlucky number.

FR666
Trust Ryanair to do things a little differently. This isn't a flight to hell, but it is a real flight number - denoting the budget airline's service between Dublin and Birmingham.
One thing you can say for the French, when civilization falls they have less far to fall than everyone else.

User avatar
Woody
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 3855
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2015 6:33 pm
Location: Sir Kenny Dalglish Stand
Age: 54

Re: Surprising things you probably didn't know about your flight number

#2 Post by Woody » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:04 pm

BA flight numbers 1-299 long haul ex LHR, 300-990 Europe ex LHR, 1000 and above domestic, 2000 and above LGW.

Edit- no seat row 13 on BA
Can the last person to leave,please feed the cat.

User avatar
ExSp33db1rd
Capt
Capt
Posts: 1547
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2015 1:51 am
Location: Lesser Antipode
Gender:
Age: 84

Re: Surprising things you probably didn't know about your flight number

#3 Post by ExSp33db1rd » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:27 pm

Weren't BA flight numbers once ... Even numbers go East ?

User avatar
ian16th
Chief Pilot
Chief Pilot
Posts: 4601
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2015 9:35 am
Location: KZN South Coast with the bananas
Gender:
Age: 82

Re: Surprising things you probably didn't know about your flight number

#4 Post by ian16th » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:51 am

ExSp33db1rd wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:27 pm
Weren't BA flight numbers once ... Even numbers go East ?
I suppose that this was in the days of Navigators, it gave them a big hint, at the start of their flight planning! :ymdevil:
Wine improves with age
I improve with wine :YMPARTY:

unifoxos
Capt
Capt
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:36 am
Location: Twycross Zoo, or thereabouts
Gender:
Age: 73

Re: Surprising things you probably didn't know about your flight number

#5 Post by unifoxos » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:46 am

This isn't a flight to hell, but it is a real flight number - denoting the budget airline's service between Dublin and Birmingham.

Some would disagree with that.
Sent from my tatty old Windoze PC.

User avatar
llondel
Capt
Capt
Posts: 508
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:17 am
Location: San Jose

Re: Surprising things you probably didn't know about your flight number

#6 Post by llondel » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:22 pm

Then there's flight 191, to be avoided.

America 191 was the DC-10 that lost an engine (literally) on take-ff from Chicago and crashed.
Delta 191 was the Tristar that crashed in the microburst on final to DFW
Prinair 191 crashed in Puerto Rico
JetBlue 191 had a Captain go crazy and had to make an emergency landing.
X-15 flight 191 broke apart in flight, killing the pilot.

Does any other flight number manage that many incidents?

Post Reply