Why do airlines schedule multi-stop ("direct") flights?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by traveltoomuch, Sep 21, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    I've long wondered, and I now seek your wisdom on:

    Why do airlines offer direct flights? (e.g. UA1178, which goes BOS-EWR-IAH-SFO, or UA123 BOS-IAD-SEA-SFO) What's the benefit to them?

    My own frustration is that UA awards miles based on the end-to-end distance, ignoring stops, whereas taking flights with different numbers through the same connection point would earn separate miles on each segment. Yet there's no upside: legacy-UA would often (usually?) have a plane change for each segment, and even when they don't change planes, they make all passengers deplane. Southwest, of course, does something different, allowing passengers to stay on board.

    Posted here rather than in the UA forum since it seems like a more general question; feel free to move it if appropriate.
     
  2. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    When the same aircraft performs multiple legs of a "direct" flight, on domestic flights the passengers are usually allowed to remain on board. Many elect to stretch their legs, but it's usually not required.

    Before the merger, most of United's domestic direct flights generally used the same aircraft and were reasonably good connections (40-75 minutes on the ground). It was more like Southwest. One reason to offer them as direct flights is that there was a marketing advantage - some people prefer them to connections, and they often show up earlier in schedule lookups, and there are fewer taxes or fees sometimes.

    Since the merger with Continental it seems that many of the routings that officially are direct flights aren't the same aircraft and often have crazy routings and extremely long connecting times. I think United isn't offering them with the intent that many people book them this way, but because they are running out of flight numbers and need to reuse them. In fact you will often see the same flight numbers used for roundtrip flights like EWR-SEA-EWR or DEN-ASE-DEN - and clearl they aren't selling those. United has less than 2000 flight numbers to work with for their mainline flights. Everything above 2000 is for Express and code-shares. Even in the numbers below 2000 there are some that are unavailable.
     
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  3. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    PMCO wasn't like this either. I suspect that your number limitation is the primary cause. I have observed a big bump :eek: in connecting flight offerings when looking to make a reservation since the merger as well. I also noticed that many of the saver award offerings seem to have connecting rather than direct flights as well.
     
  4. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Only if the crew also remains on board. And, more often than not these days, "direct" flights involve change of aircraft or change of crew along the way.

    For United the limited pool of flight numbers is a big problem. But many airlines do it as it helps their flights show up higher in GDS search results (nonstop, direct, connection is how they show). Like most things most companies do, the basic reason is because they make more money that way.
     
  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Do they use any of the four-digit numbers for mainline flights, or is that huge pool of potential flight numbers exclusively reserved for UX flights and code shares?
     
  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Yes, many 4-digit flight numbers are used for mainline. In addition to the list below there are several pools reserved for internal use, charters, ferry flights, etc. The 787 test and delivery flights were UAL7708, for example.

    From http://www.united.com/CMS/UADocuments/pdfs/timetable.pdf (page 98):
    1 - 1299 United Airlines
    1340 - 1344 ExpressJet-Extra Section
    1368 - 1369 Colgan Air - Extra Section
    1400 - 1744 United Airlines
    1745 - 1764 Extra Sections
    1900 - 2299 US Airways Express Codeshare
    2300 - 3249 US Airways Codeshare
    3250 - 3254 Commutair Extra Section
    3255 - 3274 UAX - ExpressJet - CO Contract
    3275 - 3294 Skywest Extra Sections
    3325 - 3329 Trans States Extra Sections
    3330 - 3434 UAX-Trans States
    3435 - 3439 Shuttle America Extra Sections
    3440 - 3584 UAX-Shuttle America
    3585 - 3590 UAX-CommutAir DH3 - CO Contract
    3591 - 3604 UAX-CommutAir DH2 - CO Contract
    3605 - 3714 UAX-Go Jet
    3715 - 3717 Go Jet Extra Sections
    3720 - 3724 Mesa Extra Sections
    3725 - 3804 UAX-Mesa
    3805 - 3854 UAX-Expressjet
    3970 - 3973 Silver Airways - Extra Sections
    3975 - 4045 UAX- Silver Airways
    4046 - 4059 UAX- Silver Airways - IAD
    4060 - 4072 UAX - Silver Airways - CLE
    4073 - 4074 UAX - Silver Airways - IAD
    4075 - 4084 UAX - Silver Airways - CLE
    4085 - 4714 UAX - ExpressJet - CO Contract
    4715 - 4769 UAX-Chautauqua - CO Contract
    4770 - 4834 UAX-CommutAir DH2 - CO Contract
    4835 - 4859 UAX-CommutAir DH3 - CO Contract
    4860 - 4868 UAX-ExpressJet - CO Contract
    4869 - 4900 UAX-Republic - CO Contract
    4901 - 4904 UAX-Republic - Extra Sections
    4975 - 4999 UAX-Chautauqua - CO Contract
    5000 - 5021 UAX-CommutAir DH2 - CO Contract
    5022 - 5037 UAX- Trans States
    5038 - 5082 UAX - Cape Air GUM
    5083 - 5083 Cape Air - Extra Section
    5085 - 5122 Cape Air (Carribean)
    5123 - 5155 UAX-Shuttle America
    5156 - 5223 UAX-Skywest
    5224 - 5269 UAX- Skywest CRJ
    5270 - 5289 UAX- Trans States
    5290 - 5659 UAX-Skywest
    5660 - 5684 UAX - ExpressJet - CO Contract
    5685 - 5774 UAX-ExpressJet - former ASA
    5775 - 5784 ExpressJet - former ASA Extra Sections
    5785 - 5809 UAX-ExpressJet - CO Contract
    5810 - 5899 UAX-Expressjet
    5900 - 6189 UAX-ExpressJet - CO Contract
    6190 - 6539 UAX- Skywest Airlines
    6540 - 6544 UAX - Bus Service - EWR-ABE
    6545 - 6548 UAX - Bus Service - IAH-BPT
    6549 - 6628 Aeromar
    6629 - 6707 Amtrak
    6708 - 6748 Austrian Codeshare
    6749 - 6828 Air New Zealand
    6829 - 6848 LOT-Polish Airlines
    6871 - 6872 Cargo Extra Section - sUA Equipment
    6873 - 6873 Cargo Extra Section - sCO Equipment
    6889 - 7018 SAS - Scandinavian Airlines
    7019 - 7038 Blue One
    7039 - 7123 Copa Airlines
    7124 - 7323 Great Lakes Codeshare
    7324 - 7423 TAM Airlines
    7424 - 7471 TACA
    7472 - 7487 LACSA
    7488 - 7523 AVIANCA
    7524 - 7623 Air China
    7624 - 7661 Aer Lingus
    7662 - 7663 Aer Lingus - UA IAD-MAD, MAD-IAD
    7664 - 7668 Aer Lingus
    7769 - 7788 Turkish Airlines
    7789 - 7878 Hawaiian Airlines
    7879 - 7914 IslandAir
    7915 - 7944 South African Airways
    7945 - 7974 Qatar Airways
    7975 - 8014 Asiana
    8015 - 8714 Air Canada
    8715 - 9589 Lufthansa Airlines
    9590 - 9639 TAP-Air Portugal
    9640 - 9739 ANA-All Nippon
    9740 - 9759 UA Extra Section
    9760 - 9811 Swiss
    9812 - 9814 CO/UA Express Extra Section/RP
    9815 - 9834 Jet Airways
    9835 - 9854 Aegean Air
    9855 - 9868 Egypt Air
    9883 - 9899 EVA Air
    9900 - 9998 Brussels Airlines
     
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  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Thanks. I guess they can repurpose the Qatar numbers.
     
  8. Rejuvenated
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    Rejuvenated Gold Member

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    As long as it isn't in the middle of the night that'll break my sleep pattern, I'd much prefer to leave the aircraft and stretch in the terminals during a stopover on a direct flight if permitted.
     

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