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Airline Flight Numbers

Airline Flight Numbers have to be first authorized by IATA (International Air Transport Association) before an airline can use it. It is necessary to avoid similar flights from different airlines arriving at the same airports with similar flight numbers.

Usually planes headed north and east have even numbers, and south and west odd numbers. A return flight is usually the next number used fot departure one, for example, a New York-Dallas may have the flight number 456 and dallas-New York will probably have 457. airline flight numbers

Charter flights often begins with 8, but it depends on the commercial airline choice. They usually have uncommon flight numbers to be easy recognizable by airline employees. So as ferry flights (that are done just to move an airplane from one airport to another, without transportating any passenger) that use to have flight numbers above 9000.

Most airlines change a flight number after a serious incident or a crash. It happened most recently to Air France AF447 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. This flight now is numbered AF445. The American Airlines AA11 was the one which crashed into the World Trade Center on Sep.11th. Now its number is AA25.

There are some curiosities amongst these quite serious methods of assigning a number to a specific flight. As long as the airline doesn't violate IATA rules, it can number a flight in homage to a special event (such as a flight to San Francisco may have the number 49 or 1849 attaining to the famous Gold Rush of 1849. Or a flight to a casino town may have the numbers containing 7 or 11 for luck).

Usually flight numbers with 4 digits below 4999 are regional affiliate flights, while those above 5000 are usually codeshare numbers (a flight that is operated by another airline).

The Standard Schedules Information Manual (SSIM) annualy published by IATA states that even most people usually use “flight number” when referring to AF457 or AA25, for example, these are officially called flight codes. The flight numbers, according to Schedules Information Standards Committee from IATA, are only the numeric part of it. Following the example below, the flight numbers should be 457 and 25.


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