I know that airlines do change the flight-number after fatal accidents (as discussed in this question on aviation stack exchange) and it seems to makes sense because most people would not want to take a flight that has previously crashed.

Recently I was reviewing my travel souvenirs and I found a ticket for a flight AF445 (which previously was AF447, which crashed). I don't remember knowing at the time the relationship between both flights (never cared to look), but I showed it to a friend and mentioned this coincidence and he said: "I would never take such a flight". He argued that it was basically the same flight, same route, origin and destination, flown by the same airline.

This brings my question: How can I (or perhaps, a more superstitious traveler) know if a flight I'm thinking of taking is the afterwards change of one that didn't make it to the destination airport? Is there such a list somewhere? Or I would have to Google each flight on my future travel plan?

  • 16
    Notice that not keeping the flight nr after an accident is not only a question of superstition. Ppl waiting for the flight might get scared when googling about its arrival they see that it has crashed. Dec 28, 2022 at 0:35
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    What counts as a “changed flight number”, for you? Like, if a BA flight from London to New York crashes, is any subsequent BA flight to New York “that same flight that crashed but with a different number”?
    – Sneftel
    Dec 28, 2022 at 8:10
  • 3
    So if an airline didn't make such an announcement, but simply published a new schedule which did not contain a flight with the old number but did contain a similar flight with the new number, that wouldn't count? That makes things trickier, as it's more a matter of the airlines' press releases than flight histories.
    – Sneftel
    Dec 28, 2022 at 12:27
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    He argued that it was basically the same flight, same route, origin and destination, flown by the same airline. That's a pretty flawed logic. The unbelievable safety of airline travelling has been achieved precisely by learning from accidents. So the same flight, route, origin, destination, and airline should be a reassurance, not a scare. Unless it's about superstition, in which case the important thing is to avoid black cats on the way to the airport. Dec 28, 2022 at 15:56
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    The problem with the logic of a given route being in some way ‘bad’ like this is that a vast majority of accidents are not a result of the route. In almost all cases (barring wartime enemy activity), crashes are a result of equipment failures, pilot error, bad weather, some combination of the three, or occasionally questionable choices by the pilot (Aeroflot Flight 593 being a prime example). Repeat incidents are more common for models of aircraft (for example, the DH.106 Comet or Boeing 737 MAX) than routes. Commercial airlines simply don’t fly dangerous routes in 99% of cases. Dec 29, 2022 at 0:57

1 Answer 1


It is not a rule, some flight numbers did not retire despite the major accident(s) it was involved in. According to Wikipedia:

On the other hand, other considerations may lead an airline not to change a flight number; for instance, the aforementioned "flagship" American Airlines Flight 1 retains its designation despite a major accident in 1962 and two other accidents in 1941 and 1936. There are at least four instances of the same flight numbers that have suffered two serious accidents: Flight 253 of Linea Aeropostal Venezolana (both in 1956, the first in June, and the second in November), Flight 869 of United Arab Airlines (the first in 1962 and the second in 1963), Flight 800 of TWA (the first in 1964 and the second in 1996), and Flight 383 of American Airlines (the first in 1965 and the second in 2016).

In my opinion, if there was such a list, which contains the old (crashed) flight numbers and the new ones, then Google or any other search engine might end up showing this information when you search for the new flight number, this will be enough reason for a superstitious person to change his/her mind, destroying the whole logic behind changing the flight number.

As for a source, there is none. However, same Wikipedia page lists some flights with both the old and the new flight numbers.

  • 4
    Wikipedia has a list of previous incidents involving a commercial aircraft, it could be worth searching a flight number in this page.
    – Vince
    Dec 27, 2022 at 20:47
  • The Wikipedia page is useful although it doesn't use consistent formatting and doesn't have the flight number for all incidents. It also of course doesn't tell you the new flight number after a change.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 29, 2022 at 21:27

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