international flights


I am fortunate in that I get to watch airplanes in the landing pattern fly over my house. The planes don’t fly too low over my house as we are still several miles from the airport.

Phoenix has one visit a day from a 747 aircraft, everything else is either 737, a320, and 757.

I’ve used Flight Aware to note the landing time of the British Airways jet and if the traffic pattern is right I can watch it fly over my house.

Yesterday, I signed up for the FA e-mail notices that will let me know when flight plans are filed, etc. Today I got my first e-mail stating that a flight plan had been filed indicating a 2045 GMT/UTC departure from Heathrow and an arrival time of 11:45 pm MST/0645 UTC/GMT.

An hour later I was told that the departure would be 2146, but no indication of an arrival time.

At 6:45 pm MST/0145 GMT/UTC I received an e-mail stating that the plane had landed in Phoenix.

Is this normal for International flight notifications, or did British Airways set a new speed record for a flight from Heathrow to Phoenix AZ? (2146-0145 UTC) :wink:

I’ll be watching this over the next few days to see if there are any changes.

It just occured to me that it is now 10:00 pm MST/0500 UTC/GMT. If a plane did land at 0146 UTC their return trip would have taken place by now but I have not received any notifications.

Is this about right?




Could you provide a flight # and maybe a link to the flight in question. Would make thing a bit easier. I assume airport is KPHX. :slight_smile:



Sorry about that.

BAW289 6 December 07.

Here’s the notification I received at 1:47 am MST (0847 UTC):
Your tracked aircraft BAW289 has just filed a flight plan. It is scheduled to depart EGLL (Heathrow) at 20:43 GMT heading for KPHX (Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl) for an arrival at 23:54 MST.

Expected route: VLN BIL FFU J11 DRK COYOT2
2354 would be 0654 UTC

Thank you very much.



Inbound international flights ‘depart’ when they enter US (or sometimes Canadian) controlled airspace, but we often recieve the full flight enroute time initially, so the ETA in the alert may be wrong. Flight 289 usually arrives about 4:30 in the afternoon and 288 departs around 8 in the evening. Note the return flight operates as BAW28A instead of BAW288, which may explain why you didn’t receive a notification if you created an alert for 288.


That’s interesting. Here’s the information direct from the web site:

BA0288 PHX LHR 19:40 12:30* BA

Now I’m even more confused. :wink:



Leading zeros are removed from flight plans (e.g. BAW0288 becomes BAW288).
As far as BAW28A instead of BAW288: Often, a flight number is changed for ATC purposes to help prevent confusion between flights with similar flight numbers. It may not have a confusing flight in the PHX area but it may later on in the flight.


For completeness’ sake, you also get 1 767 (ATL-PHX-ATL DAL989/DAL856)


Great! Thanks for the tip.

I might have seen that, but I have this problem telling 320’s and 737’s apart, and now probably 757’s and 767’s. I can’t even get used to calling MD-80’s by their right name, I keep thinking DC-9’s. ;-(

Thanks again.



The MD80’s certification calls it a DC-9-81, -82, and -83 so you would be correct in calling the MD80 a DC-9. MD80 is actually just a marketing name.


Wingtips are a giveaway!


Please note the above information posted by Dami appears to be in error and I am unable to find any reference that flight numbers are changed enroute to prevent confusion between flights.

Transponder codes are changed enroute especially in my experiences when I changed centers as another person may have my squawk code assigned to them first, but to my knowledge, flight numbers remain the same from wheels up to wheels down. … c0204.html **2-4-15 ** are ATC procedures that I came across that would apply to airlines.

There are very specific guidelines for ATC to follow when there are similar sounding flight numbers. Changing flight numbers doesn’t appear to be one of them.

Similar sounding flight numbers is a very common occurrence based on my personal experiences and ATC does a very good job ensuring that a pilot is aware there is a similar sounding flight / tail number in the area again from my inflight personal experience.



For certain people on this forum: I did not say flight numbers are changed enroute. Rather, I said “Often, a flight number is changed for ATC purposes to help prevent confusion between flights with similar flight numbers. It may not have a confusing flight in the PHX area but it may later on in the flight.” This implies that the flight number is changed at the START of the flight, not enroute.


I have heard ATC announce that two planes on a particular frequency have similar call signs (for example United 29 and Delta 29, United 248 and United 284 or Cessna 04K and Piper 04K), but I can’t remember ever hearing them actually change the flight number enroute. Have others? Even if they did, it would only be for purposes of communications on that frequency and not a modification to the flight plan in the system.

As to changing it at the start, not sure how they would know to do that. As far as I know, there is not a ‘look forward’ function in the flight planning system that would be able to map all flights through all airspace together with all flight identifier information in order to resolve potential conflicts prior to departure. Even if they did have such a function, not sure what the conflict would be that required modification?


I offer the following as factual information for reference and not for the purpose of directly correcting any persons.

Primarily in the domestic US, airlines will not change an established scheduled flight number. Similar flight numbers are common both within and between airlines. For ATC purposes, a airline will add typically the letter A to the end of a flight number when the airline has two aircraft operating as one flight. This occurs when the first leg or legs becomes delayed and the airline decides to add another aircraft in an attempt to re-establish schedule integrity.

As a hypothetical example, AA555 starts out from LGA to STL then on to DFW daily. Say that the LGA segment departs several hours late for whatever reason, and AA determines that they need to re-establish schedule integrity and equipment availability downline. So, they take an available aircraft at STL and operate it as 555A (alpha) which departs at the scheduled time. Now you essentially have two aircraft operating as AA flight 555 at the same time without the confusion to ATC.


Very well composed example :slight_smile:

Just curious, is there a “rationale” for that second flight to be labeled 555 in your example, if it’s an “extra plane” that will completing the second leg from a delayed arrival? Would that be due to making “on time arrival statistics” look good for the second leg passengers?

And as I see it, unless it’s a timing issue where one is inbound and one is departing at that particular, both flights would probably not be in the air at the same time as the airline probably would want to get the passengers waiting for the arrival out sooner then later?

Otherwise, why not hold up the second plane from going if that first 555 flight has called in since they are so close anyway?

Manowar, glad I don’t schedule flights :smiley:



Just curious, is there a “rationale” for that second flight to be labeled 555 in your example, if it’s an “extra plane” that will completing the second leg from a delayed arrival?

My guess would be to quell passenger confusion. If I am sitting in STL to get on AA555 to DFW, but they are calling it AAXXX, I would not realize that is my flight. :unamused:


There’s also flights that, to the passenger, looks like one flight so that it shows as a direct or through flight rather than a connecting. However, it is really two flights.

Here’s an example using Delta’s timetable:

Flight 1: ATL-LGW
Flight 111: AGS-ATL-LGW
Flight 222: MEM-ATL-LGW
Flight 333: MCN-ATL-LGW

While it looks like Delta has 4 flights to LGW from ATL, in actuality, it only has one flight. The flights from AGS, MEM, and MCN are technically connecting flights to Flight 1.


United spent millions of dollars several years ago to develop an IT system to automate flight scheduling. What they learned (I am told by a close friend at UAL), was that their best people can handle complex scheduling much better than computers.


Probaby so!

People can look out the window :smiley: and see that it’s VLIFR and the scheduling just “ain’t” going to fit all those planes in at the human level.

Or that some major event bringing in slew of people and having to move equipment to accomodate for the extra traffic.

Computers are nice, but when things go willy nilly, it ends up being the human touch to do all the housekeeping that the curves of life brings us.