preceding flight info?


One of the best ways to know about, and estimate, delays is to know the situation with the PRECEDING flight - the actual metal needed to initiate the NEXT (desired) flight.

Is there a way to show the info regarding the aircraft needed to initiate one’s scheduled flight?

For instance, if I am interested in UA1218 from SMF to DEN, it is scheduled out at 14:00. If I can know the situation on the Inbound flight that will become UA1218, I can estimate the delay well in advance.

FlightAware shows that UA1218 continues thru to IAD, but where does it come FROM into SMF?

Any thoughts on this?



“In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!”

For a United 752 to come out of SMF it has to go in to SMF. That narrows it to 6:

 UAL1157 | B752         | KDEN   | KSMF
 UAL314  | B752         | KLAX   | KSMF
 UAL485  | B752         | KDEN   | KSMF
 UAL515  | B752         | KORD   | KSMF
 UAL685  | B752         | KORD   | KSMF
 UAL735  | B752         | KORD   | KSMF

Unless it’s a RON (unlikely with a 2pm departure), it has to go in to SMF before it comes out of SMF. UAL1157 routinely comes in a hour or so before UAL1218 departs, while the other 5 arrive 3 to 12 hours after UAL1218 departs. I think we have a winner.


While that approach works in many cases, it won’t always. When airlines have delays, they often start shuffling planes around and change the matchups between inbounds and outbounds. In addition, at maintenance hubs they will substitute planes coming out of maintenance for delayed inbound aircraft. If you call the airline, they can tell you which inbound flight is matched with which outbound, at least at that moment.


What does RON stand for? Something overnight, I sense…
Tried searching, but you wouldn’t believe how many guys called Ron are involved in this forum!

BTW, does someone know a site with a good lexicon of these aviation acronyms?


Absolutely. This one happened to be easy because SMF isn’t a big station for United and only sees a few 757s a day. If 1157 was delayed out of Denver they may shuttle one over from their hub at SFO.

Remain(ing) Overnight

I usually use or


Like people said, for the ‘remote’ locations for carriers, in order for one to leave there, it has to get there first. It’s a lot harder for their hub sites because an aircraft may just have come back from maintenance or any one of a number of things and is being ‘inserted’ there. If you play around a bit and especially look for inbound flights to the hub that on one day happen to have a huge delay you can usually find it on the outbound side as well. Obvously, the ACARS info with the tail #s would help even more.