Plane flies five passengers US to London

The Telegraph reports

A major airline is under fire from environmentalists for flying an aircraft across the Atlantic with only five passengers on board.

The flight from Chicago to London meant that the plane, a Boeing 777, used 22,000 gallons of fuel.

It led to American Airlines being accused of reckless behaviour by green lobby groups.

Just one of those ridiculously pointless articles which really serves no purpose. I’m sure AA would have loved to cancel the flight and save money, but of course that plane had somewhere else to go from LHR. It’s not like they can just cancel the flight and magically have another 777 appear at LHR for AA’s continuing flight to wherever in the US it was scheduled to fly.

The most interesting part of the article, of course, is this:

While it was able to find places for nearly all the passengers on the fully-booked flight, five still had to be accommodated. Those who did fly were upgraded to the business class cabin.

 As nice as an upgrade sounds, this kind of made me chuckle. In a case like this couldn’t AA have upgraded all the passengers to First to show them a truly special experience, or what? I’m sure the FA’s had a blast on that flight, something I bet none of them will see again.


  1. Why is this a ridiculously pointless article (the Telegraph one)? Newspapers are in the business of reporting the news, and this flight got enough attention that it warranted this story. Note that the Telegraph does explain the same point you are making by quoting the AA spokesperson as saying:

    “However, this would have left a plane load of west-bound passengers stranded in London Heathrow who were due to fly back to the US on the same aircraft.”

  2. OK, good point, didn’t think of it that way. I guess it comes down to the fact that newspapers choose what to report, and giving this story any attention just seems sad to me. I agree though, can’t really blame the newspaper, my bad…

  3. I’m confused. The story doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t understand why they had to cancel the flight and then they still had a plane available to take the 5 remaining passengers. Why go to all the trouble of rebooking the other 300+ passengers if they had an empty plane that was going anyway. I must be missing something.

  4. Good question Mark, it really doesn’t make much sense, or at least isn’t clear enough in the article. Here’s a scenario that happened to me in January on a UA flight to FRA, which I could imagine is similar to what happened with AA.

    I was booked on UA916 (a 747, the first of three daily IAD-FRA flights operated by UA), and it was showing a delay. As luck would have it UA916 was cancelled the night before as well, so there were plenty of passengers enduring a 24+ hour delay at Dulles. All of a sudden, at around 3PM, UA adds a “phantom flight,” a 747 which would operate as UA9792, meant mostly for the passengers that were stranded from the night before and didn’t get reacommodated. Oddly enough this flight wasn’t added the night before but only shortly before UA916 got delayed, and since it was showing an earlier departure time I got rebooked on it. At the time it was still totally empty, but as the delay for UA916 kept getting worse and worse more and more people were rebooked on this flight, to the point that this new phantom flight was totally packed while the original UA916 was almost totally empty, something they didn’t anticipate.

    As a sidenote UA9792, the phantom flight, ended up being delayed by about six hours too due to a mechanical, and a part was being flown in from DEN. So in the end both flights were delayed by around six hours and the original flight was almost empty while the new phantom flight totally filled up.

    My guess is that something similar happened at AA. They probably cancelled the flight due to a mechanical or something else, rebooked everyone, and then either realized that they had another plane or that the mechanical was easier to fix than they anticipated, so instead of just parking it at ORD they decided to fly it to LHR so the flight the next day ex-LHR wouldn’t have to be cancelled as well.

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