FlightAware Discussions

Fed Ex flight 1311 KDEN-KMEM

Can anyone explain this flight plan for a flight from Denver to Memphis? Seems so strange and “out of the way”. Thanks in advance.

flightaware.com/live/flight/FDX1 … /KDEN/KMEM

It’s called a “sweep flight”.

They take the scenic route during high demand periods to pass near other airports that FedEx serves. If one of their planes goes tech on the ground at one of these airports the sweep flight will divert, land and pick up the stranded high-priority packages (and as much regular stuff as they can carry) and continue on it’s planned route.

One of the many behind-the-scenes things that ensure that the cat toy you bought for Fluffy on Amazon does, in fact, arrive within the promised two days. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thank you very much TipTank,

That makes total sense now. Looking at it originally I just couldn’t imagine the fuel “waste” to fly nearly backwards to get to your end point, but now, I see where the flight could land at a whole heck of a lot of airports en route.


It looks like it never diverted from its initial altitude, I think it might have used the jet stream for time and fuel savings or if it was a planned sweep the sweep got cancelled in flight.


UPS, as far as I can tell, doesn’ t have “sweep” planes. Instead they have aircraft at SDF, PHL, ONT, and possibly other airports that are on 30 minutes standby to cover aircraft that have broken down.

Ah, no… it’s a planned flight incase there is an equipment problem. Jet stream had nothing to do with. There was no need for a diversion on any of the days shown. K?

I have seen UPS perform some pretty unusual things to make sure things keep moving, especially in peak season. This includes U-turns and obvious diversions from flight plan.

I think places like Rockford for UPS do not have ‘spare’ planes, but those laying over for other reasons (to cover off-peak flights). They have the flexibility to be able to recover from one or two aircraft going bad order during the evening rush-hours. Robbing Peter to pay Paul sort of thing.

And yes, my UPS driver knows the consequences of not delivering Kat’s new toys on-time. If he is late, he just slips it under the door and hurries off.

RFD does have spare planes.

The following stations all have aircraft that are scheduled to depart from and go to the same airport:

Are they idle planes that wait for such a situation, or are they dispatched where needed, and replacements deadheaded to meet schedules? Not arguing, just curious. Also, to satisfy my curiosity, are there aircraft at SDF which are ‘stored’ in non-peak seasons which can be sent out to fill in?

Based on the information I received, these are aircraft that are specifically scheduled for backup. No aircraft are deadheaded to replace them. I don’t have the exact times but the pilots assigned to these aircraft have something like 20 or 30 minutes to get the aircraft flying when needed.

I don’t have any information on stored aircraft in SDF.

Yep - RFD has spare planes in peak season. I see them about every day parked out on the area outside of their facility. Word on the local streets is they plan to move more and more of their shipments from RFD to MEM. Already, there are far less UPS flights than just a few years ago.

RFD really screwed the pup when they changed their name to Chicago Rockford Intl. Airport.

If I was heading to Chicago and landed at RFD I would be pissed. Just as if I want to go to Orlando from RFD and land at SFB and have to drive an hour + …I would much rather spend that hour on a bus from Rockford to Ord for $17.00.

Rockford Airport should not have been so arrogant to think that we are even close to being 'in" Chicago land. There is not even a decent hotel for 20 miles from RFD.

That’s what happens when you get dumb ass politicians and marketing people together.

They did the same thing here at a local airport. The airport was named Hayward Air Terminal. The politicians thought they would attract more people by going through the expense of renaming it Hayward Executive Airport. The reasoning? Name it Executive and you’ll get more flights. Guess what? If anything, the number of flights went down, not up. And Hayward Air Terminal is, in my opinion, a better sounding name that Hayward Executive Airport.

What gets me is the airlines that fly into one airport and call it something else. Good examples are airlines that flew into Oakland and called in San Francisco, Burbank and called it Los Angeles, and so forth.

While not debating the passenger aspect of RFD, moving away from the center city congestion of Chicago works for a lot of other modes. For decades, they advertised that “close in Milwaukee (MKE)” was “the” alternative for ORD. And I laugh even harder when I hear the Cigar Chomping pols of IL suggest that a site far south in Peotone, IL (near Kankakee) would compliment ORD.

Outside of peak season, I could see logic in keeping as much as possible at World Port (SDF). During peak season, you need that added capacity as was proved in this last December. I wish I knew the true mission of RFD’s existence, other than congestion at Louisville.