I have a flight next month and this flight got rebooked for a "technical stop". I suspected this was to pick up more passengers, but looking at the other "technical stop" questions here, a technical stop is used for refueling or inspection of the plane.

Here's the thing though: this technical stop is done after only 30 minutes of flying, about 150km (~90 miles) away from the departure airport. Basically, we will take off and land immediately at the next airport.

I've tried to contact their customer support as they also changed my outbound flight (although there's no stop, just a different departure time), but I ended up at a call center with people who are very hard to understand. I also wasn't notified of this change, I discovered this myself when I went to their website to look for baggage allowance. The airline I'm flying with doesn't seem to have a good reputation, so I'm a bit concerned about this sudden change. What worries me even more is that the same flight on the same day of the week doesn't have this stop on the previous and next weeks.

What could a "technical stop" mean in this context?

  • Welcome to TSE, but I'm a little unclear on what your actual question is. An airline can't just pretend a flight has a technical stop when it's making a traffic stop, and vice versa; such things are governed by international agreements and there is different paperwork. It may be required to accommodate crew scheduling, or perhaps there is temporarily not enough fuel or catering or ability to expunge the lavatory stowage at your origination airport (at the right price), or fifty other things. – choster Sep 18 '19 at 15:30
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    As noted there are many possible explanations. If you could say which airports are involved, someone may know about any specific issues going on there. – Nate Eldredge Sep 18 '19 at 16:01
  • It could also pick up cargo. Cargo business is very lucrative. – chx Sep 18 '19 at 16:09
  • @NateEldredge: It's Monastir airport (MIR), flight to Brussels (BRU), technical stop in Tunis (TUN). – Bv202 Sep 18 '19 at 16:58

This is just a guess, but this sort of thing sometimes happens when an airport has expensive fuel, or is not a good place for a crew layover.

Suppose an airline wants to fly between airports AAA and BBB, which are a fair distance apart (several hours flying). In the normal case, the plane will fly from AAA to BBB, refuel, and fly back to AAA. Since there are limits on how many hours the crew can be on duty, the same crew cannot fly the plane back to AAA, so they stay overnight in BBB, and are replaced by the crew who flew AAA-BBB the previous day and spent the night.

However, it could happen that due to economic issues or supply disruptions, fuel at BBB is very expensive or in short supply. The airline could add a tech stop at CCC on the way back. When departing AAA, the plane takes on enough fuel to do AAA-BBB-CCC, so as not to have to buy fuel at BBB. (This is sometimes called "tankering".) Then at CCC, which should be someplace where fuel is cheaper, the plane refuels to be able to fly CCC-AAA. The same logic could apply with any other necessary supplies or servicing in place of fuel.

Another possibility is that the airline feels that BBB is not an appropriate place for its crew to spend the night (e.g. high crime, civil unrest, no good hotels, etc). If CCC is close to BBB, the same crew can fly AAA-BBB-CCC. They spend the night in CCC and are replaced by the crew who flew AAA-BBB-CCC the previous day, who will now fly the plane back to AAA.

In both cases, this works best if CCC is pretty close to BBB, but far enough not to be affected by the same issues as BBB (in a different country, say).

Since you're going the opposite way, BBB-AAA, you see your itinerary changed to BBB-CCC-AAA. But if you're making a round trip and coming back on the same airline, you probably won't see a tech stop added to your AAA-BBB leg.

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    Another possibility, possibly triggered by an equipment change, is if the aircraft cannot take off from BBB with enough fuel to reach AAA. CCC may have a longer runway, allowing the aircraft to take off fully fueled. – Patricia Shanahan Sep 18 '19 at 15:40

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