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There's a daily flight, let's call it AB 1234 which leaves at 11am with a flight duration of more than 13 hours. I noticed that every day, the same flight AB 1234 leaves at 11am. It seems physically impossible for the same plane to travel 13 hours and return in about a similar amount of time to still make the next day flight.

Is it possible for two or more different planes to share the same flight number?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 20 down vote accepted

A flight number is simply that: a number for a flight, not a number for a plane.

The planes are just an implementation detail to make flights happen.

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I think you are confusing aircraft tail number with flight number - the former is a unique registration number for each plane, while the latter simply describes a unique route operated. When airlines operate flights on a codeshare basis, one physical aircraft could be flying the same physical route sold under different flight numbers too!

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Some flights don't even use the same plane type every day. Sometimes flight numbers are used for different destinations on different days. Here's a current example on United 831. For four recent days, the flight operated from Washington Dulles to Cancun. Then for the following three days, the flight operated from New Orleans to Denver. That pattern repeats. On most days, the flight is on an Airbus A320 (for both of the unique itineraries), but on January 19, the equipment is listed as a Boeing 757-200.

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Yeah, I've seen the different plane types based on day several times in situations where a route has significantly more demand on some days than others. I remember seeing on a Cathay Pacific route from Hong Kong -> Cebu -> Hong Kong that the equipment could be an A330, A340, 777, or 747 depending on day of the week. – reirab Sep 18 '14 at 13:39
@reirab or just availability. I've seen BA 747s at Amsterdam to replace a broken down 757 or A320 (which are/were the normal material for the route). It was just the one that could be made available quickest to minimise delays. Of course that particular flight isn't then going to turn a profit for the airline... – jwenting Oct 6 '14 at 8:46
@jwenting That's true, also, though I was referring to the scheduled aircraft actually varying by day of the week in the HKG->CEB instance I was referring to. I've run into what you mentioned also, though, where DL used a 767 to replace a broken down 757, presumably because they had a spare 767 sitting around at ATL that could be made available more quickly than getting another 757. – reirab Oct 13 '14 at 4:18

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