Flight number confusion


#1

I fly commercial flights often but have limited knowledge of how airlines operate. This fascinating site is helping me expand my knowledge.

I am scheduled in a few days for a flight from Savannah to Detroit. When I enter the flight no. FLG2995, as well as listing KSAV-KDTW flights it also show flights under the same number from Lexington to Detroit. Can anybody explain this?

Also, can anyone tell me how to interpret the routing information shown for specific flights?

Thanks for helping out a newbie.


#2

The airline “reuses” the flight number. So the flight flies Savannah to Detroit, unloads/loads passengers, and then continues on to Lexington under the same flight number.

This is a fairly common airline practice, but I have no idea why they do it. At least with your flight it’s the same type of aircraft (and possibly the same aircraft). Sometimes airlines will do a domestic hop and an international hop on the same flight number with different types of aircraft.


#3

flightaware.com/live/flight/EGF351

This looks to be an example of two identical flight numbers that are active at the same time. This situation provides for a bit of confusion on the Mapping side. Anyway to detect and seperate this data correctly?


#4

I believe that’s a different issue that’s addressed here and unfortunately we don’t have a fix implemented yet although there’s one in the works that should be pretty reliable.


#5

The FAQ asks users to shed a little light on this situation. Since you’re already working on a fix for this you might already know why it happens - but I’ll pipe up anyway.

In the case of the specific flight referenced above (EGF351) that’s an American Eagle commercial flight. Eagle flight numbers are actually 4-digit numbers, usually.

So, in the above example, EGF351 represents American Eagle Flight 4351 from KORD to KTOL (Chicago to Toledo.) But there’s also an American Eagle flight 3351 from KDFW to KTUL (Dallas to Tulsa.) Looks like it’s picking up both, based on the fact that the first digit (the 3 or the 4) gets dropped off of the flight number. Hence, two flights with the same number (3351, 4351)

(Incidentally, these are technically American Airlines flight numbers, Eagle’s parent company. There’s an entry in the Bug Aware lists to connect express carriers to their mainline parents. I wonder if this will help the bug?)

Also, to answer the other question in this thread, airlines will use the same flight number when they want to offer “direct” service to a location. For example, American Airlines offers “direct” service from Orlando (KMCO) to Shannon, Ireland (EINN) all on one flight number (AAL212). That way they can market the flight as “direct service” without mentioning that the flight isn’t non-stop. It makes a stop in Boston (KBOS).


#6

This is a fairly common airline practice, but I have no idea why they do it. At least with your flight it’s the same type of aircraft (and possibly the same aircraft). Sometimes airlines will do a domestic hop and an international hop on the same flight number with different types of aircraft.

Also, to answer the other question in this thread, airlines will use the same flight number when they want to offer “direct” service to a location. For example, American Airlines offers “direct” service from Orlando (KMCO) to Shannon, Ireland (EINN) all on one flight number (AAL212). That way they can market the flight as “direct service” without mentioning that the flight isn’t non-stop. It makes a stop in Boston (KBOS).

In the USA, a direct flight is a flight that meets one of the following requirements:

A flight has one or more stops enroute. The flight number does not change, although there may be a change of gauge. An example of a change of gauge is a flight that operates from LHR to CLT with a 747 and then changes to a 727 for the CLT-GGG leg. (This is FlightAware - look up the codes if you aren’t familar with them :smiley: ) The Offical Airline Guide (OAG) shows this as a remark stating "Flight xxx B747 - CLT - B727 (or something similar to that).

A flight has one or more stops enroute using the same aircraft for each segment. However, the flight number changes. Here’s an example: THe aircraft flies from LAX to LVK to COE to GEG to LAX. Flight 1 operates from LAX to COE. Flight 2 operates from COE to LAX. A passenger will be on a direct from LAX to GEG because it is the same aircraft. In the OAG, the remark for thee LAX-GEG flight would be something like "FLIGHT1 - COE - Flight 2)

Of course the overwhelming direct flights are neither of the above. Rather, they are just flights that don’t change flight numbers and involve no change of aircraft but do stop someplace between the passenger’s origin and destination.

In other parts of the world a direct flight is what is called a nonstop flight in the USA. The flights defined above are called through flights.


#7

So true. Anyone who has ever flown Southwest can probably tell you that “direct” is NOT the same as “nonstop”! So many pax believe they are one and the same…

Is there a fix for the multiple flight numbers coming soon? Is it that the first of the 4 digits isn’t on the radar tag or something? I flew EGF 3036 today and it’s pulling the map for EGF 4036.


#8

I don’t see EGF3036 or EGF4046 existing. You sure about those flight IDs? What’s the origin/destination?


#9

EGF 3036 SBA to LAX 7:43 am. It’s on the SBA airport departures for Dec 7th. Listed as EGF “36” I think, but the track is for some other EGF. (Same problem as above it seems.) All the west coast EGF flights are 3000 series numbers on our releases. Even the PDC comes out in a four digit format with the 3xxx flt number. (Dunno how this shows up on the radar tags.) We always drop the first digit on the radio too. It’s like that for all our operations (the ORD station drops the “4” ect and each hub has it’s own series of flight numbers). EGF 3036 becomes “36” or “zero three six” even though our paperwork says “3036”. EGF 28 (“3028”) is the only one I could find I did that was still in the database for today that I was on. (Apparently there was not a later departure that was" 4028" for it to get confused with today.) Is there any way to keep these ‘overlapping’ flights seperate in the works?


#10

We received all the data for EGF036, which our system calls EGF36, although if you type in EGF036, it will redirect you. We didn’t receive anything as EGF3036 or EGF4036

Currently, we only show the full data and track for the most recent flight. We haven’t lost the data, it’s just not being displayed in the interface yet, although this is coming soon.

It looks good to me in the flight status, two operations today – KSBA-KLAX and then KORD-KCMI


#11

Yes, this one is “4036”-

Aircraft: Embraer ERJ-145 (twin-jet) [E145/Q]
Origin: Chicago Ohare Int’l [KORD]
Destination: Univ Of Illinois Willard [KCMI]

While “3036” is the SBA-LAX SF3 flight.

Perhaps the coding in the ATC system is the problem. Skywest uses 4 digit flight numbers (on the radio too) and there is no such confusion on their route network. As an example SKW “6123” & “3123” never lose their first digit so they are always distinct, while ours are not due to them being shortened by a digit.
(For what reason I have no idea! :frowning: )

BTW- EGF 36 also operates as “Alaska 4375” under the codeshare and I can’t find that one either.


#12

I see what you mean and yeah the problem is on the ATC side since we’re definitely only getting two digits, at least on these flights. We get 4 digit codes for SKW.

P.S. SBA-LAX isn’t a bad gig!


#13

Yes, that is the quandry!

I just wanted to see my track that is being overlayed by the ORD-CMI data.


#14

[quote=“SF3aviatrix”]

OK, you can expect to be able to see that soon when we roll out historical tracks. In the mean time, you just have to check FlightAware before the next flight departs with the same number!


#15

Yes, if only you could get the 4 digit code! I have always wondered WHY they do this but no one I fly with seems to know. While on my initial operating experience I was corrected by my captain on my radio calls, “We never say the first number here.” If our Pre Departure Clearance spits out a filed 3xxx number and my release says the same, why do we only say “xxx” on the radio??? Go figure…I guess a full flight status display of all the tracks is the only way at the moment, eh? Glad there is something in the works. This place rocks :mrgreen:


#16

When we have an inbound flight that is late, (call it BTA2340, ) and we have an outbound of the same name that will be departing on time, or while the other is still in the air, the outbound will be called an “advanced section” and assigned a different oubound number such as 8340. This number is for ATC purposes only so as not to confuse the flights.


#17

towergeek, I’ve also seen an ‘A’ appended to flights in that situation, such as BTA2340A.


#18

Very true…that happens often with Northwest or Flagship. I haven’t seen that with a BTA flight, but it’s entirely possible.

Keep up the good work! Looking forward to the improvements!


#19

I’m just an “enthusiast” so I have to qualify anything I say by first saying “I might not know what I’m talking about.”

I do see that if you track AAL3036 or AAL4036 you get directed to the EGF36 with both flights (KSBA-KLAX and KORD-KCMI) listed.

I wonder if part of what causes the confusion with the multiple flights with the same flight number (at least with the EGF flights) is that EGF, American Eagle, is under the umbrella of American Airlines (AAL).

Is it possible that what’s published by the airline as the flight numbers for the Eagle flights (3036 and 4036) are actually treated as American Airlines code share numbers? So the actual Eagle flight numbers, which are filed with EGF and not AAL, are different? It sure seems like it’s EGF that’s chopping off the leading 3 or 4. Maybe because all Eagle flights start with 3 or 4.

I’m not sure how the regional carriers are matched up with their parents, but maybe this has something to do with it. I know that FlightAware has already noted some dissonance with codeshare flights and that linking up codeshares is already being worked on. I think I also read that the “regional carrier” issue is noted and being worked on. Maybe the issues are linked.

Apologies if this sounds naive. It is! :slight_smile:


#20

Hi, frodis. All the tracking data we receive is identified by the direct operator (EGF) and any interpretation or redirects we make are purely cosmetic or to help out people who are expecting to be operated by the larger/parent carrier.