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Old 01-01-2013, 07:14 PM   #1
pigletto
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If a plane is half empty or more.. questions

We are about 55 days out from our trip and I am only now purchasing the flight to Orlando.
We've only flown Southwest and Jetblue in the past. It looks like this time we will be flying with United or Delta to get the best price. When looking at these late Friday night flights, I can see that they aren't very full. Would I be correct in assuming that it's a poor idea to book a flight with only 10 or 12 seats filled at this late date? I am concerned about them being cancelled.
If that is likely to happen I am probably better off to go with the more expensive Southwest or Jetblue flights since they are almost always full out of Buffalo in our experience.
I just wondered if anyone had experience with United or Delta and whether they were likely to cancel.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:26 PM   #2
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I wouldn't worry about the flight being filled as an indicator that it would be cancelled. It's more important that the plane finishes the day in the originally planned end of day location as to not affect the next day's schedule.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigletto View Post
We are about 55 days out from our trip and I am only now purchasing the flight to Orlando.
We've only flown Southwest and Jetblue in the past. It looks like this time we will be flying with United or Delta to get the best price. When looking at these late Friday night flights, I can see that they aren't very full. Would I be correct in assuming that it's a poor idea to book a flight with only 10 or 12 seats filled at this late date? I am concerned about them being cancelled.
If that is likely to happen I am probably better off to go with the more expensive Southwest or Jetblue flights since they are almost always full out of Buffalo in our experience.
I just wondered if anyone had experience with United or Delta and whether they were likely to cancel.
United and Delta tend to draw more business travelers and they usually book last minute. They typically don't cancel one flight because it is not full because that puts the plane out of position for the next flight.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:47 PM   #4
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Thank you. I was hoping to hear that
I guess my biggest issue is taking the last flight of the day out. That is a whole day for it to get way off schedule. However it is much cheaper (420 vs 850) to take the flight out the night before. Our first day onsite is the last of the crowd calendar "10's" so if we end up delayed it's really not the end of the world.
Thanks for your help.
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:39 PM   #5
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Airlines don't cancel flights on random days because they are empty. End of story.

This messes up crew scheduling, aircraft scheduling, aircraft maintenance scheduling (airplanes often have to be in certain cities on certain days for overnight maintenance), return flight scheduling, etc., etc. It simply doesn't happen unless the weather is bad - in which case, yes, airlines will sometimes cancel the empty flights first because it's less a strain to rebook.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:06 PM   #6
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1. If a plane scheduled for a relatively full flight has to be taken out of service, say, for mechanical problems, a replacement plane may be commandeered from a not so full flight causing the latter to be cancelled instead.

2. If an airport is likely to be closed due to bad weather, flights into that airport several hours in advance might be cancelled so planes don't spend the night sitting in that airport. This causes additional flight cancellations the next day since, when the airport reopens, there are no planes there to start off the daily schedule with. Exceptions might be made for full flights coming in before the storm.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DebbieB

United and Delta tend to draw more business travelers and they usually book last minute. They typically don't cancel one flight because it is not full because that puts the plane out of position for the next flight.
One exception, not applicable to the op, some airlines have many daily flights between two cities (lax -lax for example). An Airline can cancel a pair of Almost empty flights which leaves plane and crew where they Belong
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Old 01-01-2013, 10:18 PM   #8
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One exception, not applicable to the op, some airlines have many daily flights between two cities (lax -lax for example). An Airline can cancel a pair of Almost empty flights which leaves plane and crew where they Belong
Except, well, absent bad weather or maintenance issues, that simply does not happen, ever.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:31 AM   #9
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And yet there was the flight, on Delta, that I had booked. Was it my 'first choice' of available flights? No, but fit my budget. So booked it for my dd and I. Then, about a month prior to the travel day, I get an email from Delta saying that they have changed my flight. I figure it's a timing thing. Nope, they cancelled the whole dang flight!!! And that flight was 3/4 full!! They put my dd and I on a completely unacceptable flight...early afternoon flight, which was also about 3/4 full already!! And that is why I didn't choose that flight originally. I call Delta, and tell them that the flight they put me on was completely unacceptable. They asked if there was another flight that worked better. I told them the flight around 9am. They put us on that flight. Now...that was my first choice of flights, but it was the only other direct flight and it was ridiculously expensive, so I had booked the very early 6:30am flight!! I got the flight I had really wanted, for the same price as the less desirable flight I chose originally.

So, yeah, airlines can, and do, cancel flights with seemingly no reason. The flight wasn't empty, it was a normally scheduled flight. And it was far enough away from the date to make me figure it wasn't an equipment/maintainence issue.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:53 AM   #10
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It's almost 2 months before the flight. The plane will fill up. Don't worry about the flight being canceled because not enough seats have been sold.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by lost*in*cyberspace View Post
It's almost 2 months before the flight. The plane will fill up. Don't worry about the flight being canceled because not enough seats have been sold.
You're probably right on this one. I am so used to booking my flights when they open I tend to forget not everyone is an over planner
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:00 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by goofy4tink View Post
And yet there was the flight, on Delta, that I had booked. Was it my 'first choice' of available flights? No, but fit my budget. So booked it for my dd and I. Then, about a month prior to the travel day, I get an email from Delta saying that they have changed my flight. I figure it's a timing thing. Nope, they cancelled the whole dang flight!!! And that flight was 3/4 full!! They put my dd and I on a completely unacceptable flight...early afternoon flight, which was also about 3/4 full already!! And that is why I didn't choose that flight originally. I call Delta, and tell them that the flight they put me on was completely unacceptable. They asked if there was another flight that worked better. I told them the flight around 9am. They put us on that flight. Now...that was my first choice of flights, but it was the only other direct flight and it was ridiculously expensive, so I had booked the very early 6:30am flight!! I got the flight I had really wanted, for the same price as the less desirable flight I chose originally.

So, yeah, airlines can, and do, cancel flights with seemingly no reason. The flight wasn't empty, it was a normally scheduled flight. And it was far enough away from the date to make me figure it wasn't an equipment/maintainence issue.

I did fly Airtran once. They changed my flight time several times until it was impossible for us to get from the wedding we were attending to the airport with enough time for us to make it. Long story short, not only did they let me select the much more expensive flight, they let me change airports (to the one I had originally wanted but was too expensive). The difference between what I paid and what they were charging was well over 1500.
So that was nice. Unrelated, it ended up being the worst flight I have ever been on that turned me, a previously nervous flyer, to a now fully medicated every time I am in the air flyer. Again unrelated and not their fault.. just thought I'd throw it in there
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigletto View Post
We are about 55 days out from our trip and I am only now purchasing the flight to Orlando.
We've only flown Southwest and Jetblue in the past. It looks like this time we will be flying with United or Delta to get the best price. When looking at these late Friday night flights, I can see that they aren't very full. Would I be correct in assuming that it's a poor idea to book a flight with only 10 or 12 seats filled at this late date? I am concerned about them being cancelled.
If that is likely to happen I am probably better off to go with the more expensive Southwest or Jetblue flights since they are almost always full out of Buffalo in our experience.
I just wondered if anyone had experience with United or Delta and whether they were likely to cancel.
How do you know only 10 - 12 seats are filled?? If it's the seat map...

1. The seatmap only shows you the seats you can have. So the seats held for elite (Exit row etc...) aren't even accurate unless you are elite
2. People don't always book a seat. I know that's hard to believe but... Delta has started charging for some seats and some folks are playing "let's wait and see" (I think United charges too but it's been so long since I flew them...)


And even if your plane is EMPTY the jet itself is needed wherever it was going. Those people in Orlando/Tampa etc.. have flights to Buffalo etc...

At 60 days out most schedules are pretty firm. At 330 it's a 'crap shoot' since you really are taking a chance. As a business traveler I book between 21 and 14 days and only have schedule changes when the plane breaks or the weather gets ugly . However, I have a vacation trip to Europe booked for May and it's changed 2 times in a month.... LOL!
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:52 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by OrangeCountyCommuter View Post
How do you know only 10 - 12 seats are filled?? If it's the seat map...

1. The seatmap only shows you the seats you can have. So the seats held for elite (Exit row etc...) aren't even accurate unless you are elite
2. People don't always book a seat. I know that's hard to believe but... Delta has started charging for some seats and some folks are playing "let's wait and see" (I think United charges too but it's been so long since I flew them...)


And even if your plane is EMPTY the jet itself is needed wherever it was going. Those people in Orlando/Tampa etc.. have flights to Buffalo etc...

At 60 days out most schedules are pretty firm. At 330 it's a 'crap shoot' since you really are taking a chance. As a business traveler I book between 21 and 14 days and only have schedule changes when the plane breaks or the weather gets ugly . However, I have a vacation trip to Europe booked for May and it's changed 2 times in a month.... LOL!
Thank you for the info. Makes sense and I wasn't really thinking about any of that. I was looking at the seat map and it appears like most seats are open. I'm glad to learn that there's a variety of reasons for this.

I did however notice that it appears that sooo many seats have an upcharge of some type dependant on the airline. More leg room, Choice, Select, Preferred, blah blah blah. It all amounts to paying extra. So I can see why some people don't book seats and take their chances.

ETA) Not I of course. We do pay to have relative assurance that we are sitting together. Nobody wants to sit next to nervous Nellie as I grip my armrests and hold my breath.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:37 AM   #15
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Don't worry about how full the plane is. A couple years ago I flew American Airlines and me and DH were the only ones on the plane from Cleveland to Dallas, other than the flight attendants. IT was a wierd experience but nice. Even though we were the only ones booked on that flight, the plane had to go to its destination because there were other flights that plane was needed for.
So dont worry
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