A perfect example of why direct flights suck….

Last night I was booked on UA931, the 6:59PM flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Unfortunately the flight was substantially delayed, so I decided to do some investigating. I tracked where the plane was coming from, and as it turns out it was UA926 coming from Los Angeles, and it was delayed due to a mechanical. What makes this interesting is that UA926 is the same flight number that continues to Frankfurt. The airlines love to market “direct” flights which really have stopovers, in this case “fly direct from Los Angeles to Frankfurt.” I’d bet several people aboard the Los Angeles to San Francisco flight were connecting to Frankfurt, and many probably had no clue that there was a plane change until check-in.

Take a look at this picture:


See that 777 in the background? Looks like any other 777, right? Nah, that’s the 777 going to Frankfurt, while the same flight from Los Angeles hasn’t even arrived. Heck, they missed each other by over an hour.

All US legacies do this. It’s a deceiving practice and it needs to STOP.

Filed Under: Misc., United
  1. Lucky–

    I thought you might be “amused” by my following message (vintage 2004!) to UA back in my 1P days… and the response (which, as can be all too typical of CS responses, only marginally relates to the question I asked).


    —–Original Message—–
    Received: 9/21/2004 3:57:30 PM
    Subject: Customer Relations email from jmd001

    Message type: Complaint
    Response required: Yes

    I feel that at best it is deceptive (and in most cases, it is false) advertising for an airline to use a single flight number between two points when in fact a change of planes must be made. When booking a flight, a single flight number gives the strong implication of a non-stop flight or at least a “direct” flight where there is no plane change(s) if there are any intermediate stops. Why does your airline continue this deceptive practice of using a single flight number when if fact a plane change is part of the schedule?

    Mileage Plus Number: 000xx xxx xxx
    Mileage Plus Status: PremierExecutive

    From: [email protected]
    Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2004 14:27:52 -0500
    Subject: RE: Customer Relations email from jmd001 -Ref#: 3377381A
    TO: jmd001

    Dear Mr. jmd001,

    Thank you for contacting United Customer Relations. You ask for an explanation of airline terminology. A direct flight is one that operates through one or more cities to an ultimate destination with no change of planes along the way. Nonstop is just that, the flight operates without stops between the point of origin and the destination. I will forward your comments about the flight numbers to the proper management office for their future use.

    We appreciate this opportunity to be of assistance and look forward to serving you again.


    Sally Kramer
    United Airlines Customer Relations

    This message is intended only for the use of the Addressee and may contain information that is PRIVATE and CONFIDENTIAL. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please erase all copies of the message and its attachments and notify the sender immediately. Thank you.

  2. Here’s how my dictionary defines direct:
    extending or moving from one place to another by the shortest way without changing direction or stopping

    So yes I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  3. I agree. I was on a direct flight ZLO>SEA (stop in LAX). We were late on the inbound by 1 hour, and we actually missed the LAX>SEA sector!! It left without us!

  4. I did a SFO-LAX flight on that daye and everything wen perfectly, damn it, everytime i do a MR everything goes smothly, every time i do a real trip, everything get delayed!

  5. At least flights marketed as direct allow passengers to eschew some airport taxes. šŸ™‚

  6. United does this with a flight from San Diego to Frankfurt, also. Last year my wife (who is 1P) attempted to use miles for an upgrade. The SAN-SFO segment cleared, but the SFO-FRA segment didn’t. United will dock 30k miles unless you notify them – and even then they will charge you 15k for the domestic upgrade – which most of us would agree is not an efficient use of miles! After complaining, UA credited all the miles back, and my wife continued her loyalty to them. I agree with you – this practice only works to erode an airline’s credibility.

  7. AC is marketing “direct” from YVR to CDG which sounds like a sweet deal given the latitude and polar circle flying. Should save a ton of time vs. connecting through YYZ or YUL right?

    Wrong. The flight connects through YUL likely resulting in a 3-4 hour flying time increase vs. the YVR-LHR or YVR-FRA offered by AC or LH.

    Given good LH connections at FRA you could be inside CDG sooner by connecting on LH vs. taking the YVR-CDG “direct”.

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