Holy Smokes: United Airlines Flights Are EMPTY

Filed Under: United

Obviously global demand for travel is way down. Not only are most airlines canceling a majority of their flights, but even those flights that are still operating are quite empty.

For example, United has indicated that even after canceling flights, they expect most flights to be 20-30% full. Well, it looks like that may have been super optimistic (and that makes me happy that people are staying home, even if it is putting the economy on pause).

Just how empty are United Airlines flights?

Monday morning is usually a peak travel time, so how full are flights this morning? This is especially interesting to look at for domestic flights, given that there aren’t any government restrictions at the moment on flying domestically within the US. Rather there’s just social shame for anyone who chooses to take a flight unnecessarily, as there should be. 😉

It’s easiest to use United as an example for how full flights are, because United is the only one of the “big three” US carriers that publishes seatmaps on their website even after flights leave.

They show these details on the “flight status” section, so it’s easy to figure out just how empty flights are. I assume other airlines are equally empty, but United just makes it easiest for us to figure out these details.

@AirlineFlyer notes just how empty one flight is from New York to Chicago (Jason has provided some awesome coverage throughout all of this), so I figured it would be interesting to look at a wide array of flights, to see just how empty they are.

In no particular order, here are the details (and keep in mind this is after many flights have been canceled, and presumably flights have largely been consolidated):

Newark to Los Angeles

This morning’s 6AM Newark to Los Angeles flight was canceled, while the 7AM flight was operated by a 787-10. How full was that flight, UA240?

  • 6/44 business class seats were taken
  • 0/21 premium economy seats were taken
  • 11/45 extra legroom economy seats were taken
  • 17/199 economy seats were taken

That means there were 34 passengers on a plane with 309 seats, meaning the flight had an ~11% load factor.

San Francisco to Newark

This morning’s 6AM San Francisco to Newark flight was canceled, while the 7:15AM flight was operated by a 787-10. How full was that flight, UA577?

  • 10/44 business class seats were taken
  • 0/21 premium economy seats were taken
  • 0/45 extra legroom economy seats were taken
  • 27/199 economy seats were taken

That means there were 37 passengers on a plane with 309 seats, meaning the flight had a ~12% load factor.

New York LaGuardia to Chicago

This morning’s 6AM LaGuardia to Chicago flight was canceled, while the 7AM flight was operated by an A319. How full was that flight, UA600?

  • 2/12 first class seats were taken
  • 1/36 extra legroom economy seats were taken
  • 11/78 economy seats were taken

That means there were 14 passengers on a plane with 126 seats, meaning the flight had an ~11% load factor.

Chicago to Newark

This morning’s 6:05AM Chicago to Newark flight was operated by an A319. How full was that flight, UA636?

  • 8/12 first class seats were taken
  • 4/36 extra legroom economy seats were taken
  • 2/78 economy seats were taken

That means there were 14 passengers on a plane with 126 seats, meaning the flight had an ~11% load factor.

Boston to San Francisco

This morning’s 6AM Boston to San Francisco flight was operated by a 757-200. How full was that flight, UA433?

  • 2/16 business class seats were taken
  • 0/45 extra legroom economy seats were taken
  • 7/108 economy seats were taken

That means there were nine passengers on a plane with 169 seats, meaning the flight had a ~5% load factor.

San Francisco to Los Angeles

This morning’s 6:44AM San Francisco to Los Angeles flight was operated by an A320. How full was that flight, UA504?

  • 7/12 first class seats were taken
  • 7/42 extra legroom economy seats were taken
  • 7/96 economy seats were taken

That means there were 21 passengers on a plane with 150 seats, meaning the flight had a ~14% load factor.

Bottom line

This must be an absolute bloodbath for airlines. But kudos to most people for staying home, at least…

The above are literally just flights I randomly chose without an agenda. It seems that on average flights are more like ~10% full, rather than ~20-30% full.

Bonus points to anyone who can either find a nearly full domestic United flight, or one that operated but is even emptier than the above!

Are you surprised by how empty United flights are?

  1. All those AA Golds should stop complaining about how their 500-mile upgrades are worthless. Based on these numbers, looks like it should be pretty easy to clear on any route!

  2. At these low loads, taking a flight really is less dangerous than grocery shopping, so no need to shame people for it

  3. why don’t they downgauge the aircraft? Why send a 787-10 transcon when a 737-700 would suffice. I get it that they don’t have polaris, but these are exceptional times…

  4. It seems like UA has already sometimes consolidated 2 737 flights into 1 787 flight… Yet it remains super empty.

    E.g. a 10:30pm SFO-IAD departure on a 737 and an 11:30pm SFO-IAD departure on a 737 may both be canceled and replaced with a singular 11pm SFO-IAD departure on a 787

  5. Are you looking at seat maps? I fly the E175 for UAX and we had a seat map from DCA-ORD show 9 passengers, release showed 9… only 1 flew…

    Actual load factors are way less than what you are even seeing.

  6. Not just UA! I was in SEA last night and there was a DL flight to SNA at an adjacent gate that went out with 4 pax. 3 in F, 1 in Y on an E-175. 4/76 – just under 5%. Multiple AS flights also were in the single digits.

    My JetBlue flight from PHL-BOS last Friday went out 7/100 on the E-190, of which 2 were deadheading crew.

  7. UA504, 3/23/2020: Where are these (SFO-LAX) 21 pax going when it Shelter in Place here in SF and LA? All 21 are essential travelers? Was expecting loads to be closer to a handful (under 10).

  8. While some flights are empty, others are overbooked. Most ones from Australia to the US on UA are completely full, and a lot to Europe are also Full. It’s mostly people trying to get home tho, so only very temporary demand

  9. I flew BA 217 from London to Dulles last Thursday and I was upper deck economy on the A380, and there were 6 of us flying. The lower deck wasn’t much busier. I have NO idea why they continue to fly an A380 instead of downgrading the plane. I swear they could put us all on the Barclay’s Shuttle and still have a seat for all of us.

  10. Was in Emirates JNB DXB SFO Lansing yesterday. First leg only two of us in the last section of business. Second leg about half full.

  11. I’m not surprised and am glad that everyone is finally starting to take this seriously.

  12. Just curious – I know you’re not allowed to self upgrade on flights. However, if you tell the FA you just want to sit in a FC seat and don’t want any of the extra perks (a meal, for example) that come with it do you think they’d let you?

  13. hey Lucky- sorry to be curmudgeonly – but I’d avoid using sensational terms in your headlines (e.g., wow, holy smokes)…

  14. Why is this news? ALL airlines around the globe are flying with empty aircraft, and United is not the exception. Don’t understand your obsession with this airline as you constantly keep singling them out.

  15. @alliw you do realise certain people have to travel. What if they are all doctors ? Travellers connecting and returning home via LAX to another destination …

  16. @ Gary — Reading is so much fun:
    “It’s easiest to use United as an example for how full flights are, because United is the only one of the ‘big three’ US carriers that publishes seatmaps on their website even after flights leave.

    They show these details on the ‘flight status’ section, so it’s easy to figure out just how empty flights are. I assume other airlines are equally empty, but United just makes it easiest for us to figure out these details.”

  17. @ AT — I respect where you’re coming, but I’ve gotta be honest, I never thought I’d see the day where an airline would cancel many/most flights, and those remaining flights would still be 5-15% empty. This truly is surprising to me (and it makes me happy that people are staying home).

  18. @ Ryan — Correct me if I’m wrong, but when you look at a seatmap on the “flight status” display after departure, it should correctly reflect the actual load. At least someone at United who would know has confirmed that to me.

  19. Last time I flew was 2 weeks ago. I took 4 Delta domestic flights. The news about the virus were already out but much quieter than now. Every single flight was sold out and many people on standby didn’t make it. There was no panic, not facemasks and people were just living their lives.

  20. Seems a bit of a waste to let all those premium seats go empty.

    They could even bump the extra leg room folks into premium economy? Come on.

  21. Another interesting way to see flight frequencies is to look at a site like flight radar 24. What I found most disturbing was the clear pattern of how busy US airspace still is compared to other countries around the world. Self isolating does not seem to be a feature of US airpace.

  22. These are probably cargo flights delivering essential supplies with PAX being classed as self loading cargo.

  23. Lucky … yes in MOST cases after the flight departs the seat map should be curate since the gate agent offloads no shows

  24. On my EWR-SFO flight Monday 3/16/2020, after door closes, it was announced that people can move to E+ seats for $198 up charge.

  25. This is also because NYC to LAX is very expensive still. $248 round trip on JetBlue & Delta is the cheapest if you need to go tomorrow. Whereas from Philadelphia, which is my airport, a round trip flight is $43 with Spirit, $99 RT with American. Due to this, I’m sure many people won’t fly even if they were willing to out of NYC/NJ but are more willing from Philadelphia or any other airport offering dirt cheap direct flights

  26. The flights from Hawaii continue to be full relative to other flights. Take a look at last night’s HNL-DEN flight (UA 383) for example. This was a 777 and it looks like every First Class seat was taken and there were only a few empty seats in the back. The same was true for Maui to Denver, also a 777.

  27. United’s flight to Tel Aviv on March 30th is decently full.

    I don’t understand why don’t they operate all their long haul flights (all what, 6 of them) on the 787, it’s far more fuel efficent.

    Currently, the Tel Aviv flight is still operating on the 777-300ER

  28. On JAL61 today LAX-NRT. Economy sold out with just a few seats left in business (B777-300) according to the agent. I think today is an anomaly. Not sure why other than my original flight LAX-KIX flight was cancelled. Few KIX-LAX two weeks ago…I’d guess 50 people total on that flight.

  29. I wonder if freight is financially making up for some of the downdraft. It was my understanding after 9/11 there were flights going tvery empty, but the cargo was more valuable and lucrative for the airlines. Of course, that same model may no longer be in use today.

    Also, these planes have to be repositioned. It would be beneficial to see did these planes go to epicenters where it continued on with more reasonable loads. Plus pilots are trained usually on one or two aircraft. It’s not always so easy to “switch out” planes unless you’re using the same type of plane (maintenance).

  30. I fly to and from LHR often on UA and AA. For the past 3 weeks the flights have been getting emptier and emptier. Within the last week I was on a flight as one of only two people in business class. In 20 years of flying, incl 10 consecutive yeas as GS and also a few years as CK I have never EVER seen loads like this. Really bizarre to see, and I hope it all comes back strong, for all of our sakes.

  31. Why is United continuing to have so many flights?

    SFO to EWR still has 9 daily flights on their schedule. Makes zero sense. They should cut that down to 4 and there would still be hundreds of open seats.

  32. @AlliW
    I was on that UA504 flight. I noticed a lot of uniformed airline employees on the flight so that might explain some of it.

  33. I’ll be on a 787-10 LAX-EWR this afternoon with 64 people. About 2/3 are connecting to TLV and Sao Paulo.

  34. Reminds me somewhat of the first couple of weeks post 9/11. JFK-SFO flight a week after – there were 6 people on the flight total (when AA still flew the 767s on the route no less). Totally against the rules, but the FAs were so grateful they just moved everyone to F (warning everyone it wasn’t F catering). A few days later SFO-DEN, they consolidated about 3 flights together and did the route with a 747. 12 of us on board.

    The thing the certainly really scares me is post-9/11 it was a totally different situation in that everyone just seemed to be avoiding flying. Not like now where it’s corporate policy not to travel (mine was just extended to 4/30). Im not complaining, needs to be done, but this is probably a lot tougher to recover from even than 9/11.

  35. Friends working for Delta said that DL’s loading factor has been reasonable around 60% to 70% system-wide; and their flagship routes out of JFK to LAX and SFO were still able to sell almost all Delta One seats (almost no chance to clear RUC/GUC requests). It is just amazing that to see DL’s performance while UA could barely fill in 20% of their premium routes like EWR-LAX/SFO and BOS-SFO even after consolidating flights?

  36. You know what sucks?? Despite the fact that business/premium class seats are fairly empty, United refuses to put Gold and Silver on the upgrade waitlist as these are special premium flights, and they don’t even offer discounted upgrades. I tried upgrading on my EWR – SFO flight yesterday, and they wanted 800 to move from E+ to business, 300 for moving to Premium Plus. Ridiculous — you’d think with their poor cash flow right now, they’d do some type of bidding or offer cheaper upgrades.

    Just crazy

  37. @Sam – downgauge from a widebody to a narrowbody may not be possible if freight customers are using containers.

  38. Exactly why I don’t understand why the US carriers don’t just shut down for the time being. I think the airlines would be better off financially doing that.

    Also extremely wasteful – in multiple ways – to run all these planes with ~10% LF. For the environment, financially for the airline, etc.

    I think a 3 week shutdown for the domestic carriers (passenger only – cargo flights would be exempted) would be a good thing, and would help with the virus not spreading. An airplane and airports have to be among the worse places for this to spread.

  39. All least all “courtesy upgrade” passengers are getting bumped up front…

    Gone are the days of being “#78 on the list” for two open seats upfront.

    I should feel bad for these guys, but then I think of the misery of the last 4 million miles. Maybe this was a luxury most of the world could do without. I’m not missing being treated like “self loading cargo”. RIP you 27-inch seat pitch melon farmers.

  40. If you must fly at these times, it would be smart to stick to economy, as you’re more likely to get a “skycouch” for yourself in the back; unless you’d rather pay more for a recliner up front.

  41. Mayank,

    Spirit is charging $29 from EWR to LAX

    UAPremierGuy ,

    The EWR-Honolulu flight in the air right now has 33 people out of 240 seats

  42. I was on UA 838 NRT-SFO last week. Decently full 777-300ER. And my SFO-LAX was maybe 1/2 full.
    My 1st flight ANA 806 BKK-NRT was nearly empty. At least in Business Class. That’s never ever been the case. It’s always filled to the maximum.

  43. Check Denver to Chicago flights for today. I believe most of them are full. And some iad to Europe flights.

  44. Don’t work out load factors on seat maps. They do NOT reflect the true onboard count, even after departure.

    But yeah, flights are super empty.

    Those widebodies are carrying lots of belly cargo, however. United is now operating 40+ widebodies to Europe (mostly LHR/FRA) a week as dedicated freighters. That cargo is connecting on to widebodies in the US, where possible.

  45. I assume slot restriction agreements are waived now so no empty planes on those routes to preserve those slot operational percentages. I don’t think it’s shameful to fly right now. If the airlines don’t get back to business in a week or two there may not be many flying for financial reasons. Sooner or later those that travel will have to get back on a plane. It’s been 2 weeks in isolation for many already. How much longer do we need, 1 week, 2 weeks?

  46. Hmmm… I need to go STL-LAX for my daughters “sort of Wedding” (the real one was cancelled) I’m thinking of driving but maybe the plane would work after all . So few people I’d probably be way less exposed than if I spent 3 days driving and staying in hotels. What do you guys think?

  47. You know what? United knows how to do social distancing more than any one of us (even on an airplane)!

  48. Emirates flight out of DFW had 17 passengers today and Qatar flight has 41. Everyone is taking a beating.

  49. With UA’s very customer UNfriendly policies is it any wonder? Any flight they cancel they’ll hoard the cash for up to a year. Why bother taking the chance and booking them? Makes more sense to fly some other carrier. With UA in particular with their actions of late, I have zero pity for them as a company. Feel terrible for their employees who have been abused by the company itself.

  50. A family member of mine flew from Atlanta to Orlando this morning and his first 2-3 bookings all got canceled. They were all around the same time to going from 3 flights to 1 on Delta (with one on a 767 and others on 757’s) to one 757-200 and there were still less than 10 in First and like 15 in coach.

  51. Nothing about this situation should make you happy. You are not thinking about the many people employed by airlines. Happy is not the appropriate terminology.

  52. It will take many months if not a few years to get back to normal but lets hope that covid19 will start to go away on its own in April and May like most flu viruses.

  53. Thanks Lucky. You’re right about the answer to the coach pax that wanted to sit in first class without all the extras. Absolutely not. I retired after decades at Delta inflight. If you’re not on the 1st class manifest you are told immediately to return to coach and stay there.
    As far as substituting big planes for smaller ones, don’t people realize the airlines know what they’re doing? Maybe the flight returning is full or there is a large amount of cargo on board. The airlines, as a whole, know exactly what they’re doing.

  54. It’s all just surreal

    I was at MSP on Saturday dropping off rental car
    Each parking garage has about 4500 to 5000 spots over 4 floors.
    (So 1250 spaces per floor)
    Usually garage is packed

    There were 7 cars parked

    It’s surreal

  55. Completely agree with ChadMC. Let United go bankrupt, they are the worst and most unfriendly airline and now karma comes to say hello.

    Book a $1000 flight that gets cancelled and switch to a $600 flight. UA keeps the $400. They don’t even give it back to you as a credit. But guess what, if your replacement flight is more expensive you get the good fortune of paying the difference. I would drive 3 hours to an airport serviced by SW, DL, AA before flying on UA.

  56. On Friday night I was on SEA-EWR Alaska. 2 pax in F, 13 in cattle. 737-8 metal. Less than a dozen cars in the Parking Spot lot. (No wine, no food on the flight, and no alcohol in SEA airport as well.)

  57. Isn’t the expression ‘holy smoke!’ (singular) ? Holy smokes sounds like a pack of Vatican cigarettes !

  58. My daughter just flew 3/21 SYD-IAH on United and it was 100% full! So thankful she was in business class so she could social distance from other passengers. Her flight from IAH-LGA was 85% full. Not all flights are empty!

  59. On Saturday we took a one-way flight from Columbus, Ohio, to Cancun, Mexico. We were the only passengers on the entire flight. We sat in first class, had our own concierge, and it was heaven.

  60. Honestly, why are planes flying out of NYC area. Infection rates are soaring. Many cases are prob not in the official count. I realize people may need to get home but this spread will not stop unless we all do our part. Really frustrating.

  61. I have a friend who is a pilot for united. She flew out to Sydney this morning. There were tentatively 30 reservations on the flight. She flies back tomorrow, and there are over 350 people booked for the return flight, as well as 35 on standby.

  62. I am particularly happy about it. My last flight on March 12th was so pleasant. No long lines, no gate crowding and staging, friendly sky staff, plenty of room to stretch out and a nice, respectful return home. The airlines have been crowding us like cattle for so long, charging for every word, cramming us into seats made for midgets ( no disrespect) , no snacks, and just raking us over the coals, that a little respite is a nice change from the norm. I didn’t have to beg for water, or feel bad about requesting it like I was putting them out of their way. There still is the leg room issue, but on this fight I had three seats to sprawl. I am 5’10” and normally crippled after a flight due to leg room restrictions. Just my opinion!

  63. Check this out!

    UA90, EWR-TLV, just left with 69% load!

    777-300ER (350 seats)

    240 are full, including most of Polaris.


  64. Hub-to-hub and flights to key destinations are frequently consolidated to wide body aircraft even if the passenger loads are quite low because United is fully leveraging its cargo capabilities right now. Beyond belly-loading aircraft which are still flying passengers, United also is chartering 40 cargo-only flights on its 777s and 787s for use to Europe each week, making profitable use of aircraft that would otherwise be sitting on the ground.

  65. “It seems like UA has already sometimes consolidated 2 737 flights into 1 787 flight… Yet it remains super empty.”

    They consolidated a 777 and a 737 SFO-OGG into a 777 only. I’m due to depart in a week and a half. They moved me from the mid morning 737 to the empty early morning 777. I’m flying first and the seat selector shows that I was the only first class passenger as of the other night. Every first class seat was open, and this was a 777 with the uprated “pod” seats, not the domestic 777-200s like N777UA with the old interior. There’s a 22 minute connection time in SFO between my inbound flight and the Maui flight. Yeah, prolly not gonna make that! Who am I kidding, with today’s news, I’m not flying to Maui over Spring Break, anyway. Still waiting for UAL (outbound) and HA (inbound) to cancel my flights but I suspect they’ll wait for the last second to try to avoid paying me a refund.

    I’ve heard anecdotally on travel blogs that flights to Hawaii are virtually empty outbound, but then full inbound back to North America as tourists try to get away before air travel stops virtually completely. That may be another reason that UAL is subbing in larger planes, depending upon the routing – they may need the larger plane with more seats to get people out of certain areas.

  66. Daughter flew AF54 B777 CDG-IAD on Sunday 3/22. She had the entire row to herself and estimated the nearest person was more than 10 feet away. It’s unclear to us if the demand is not there or if Air France is flying reduced capacity and spreading out passengers for social distancing.

  67. @Bob – Hawaii’s Governor Ige instituted quarantine measures beginning this week (IIRC). As an apparent corollary, I’ve heard anecdotally that much of the Hawaii lodging industry is shutting down.

    No one desires to fly into quarantine conditions, and visitors that remain are getting out before Hawaii is effectively closed.

  68. Remember when it was a pleasure to travel, when one frequently had seats between the others? Make it so again. Isolate the sick if you have to transport them.
    The red eye cattle car from the west coast to home gave me a bad cold the first week of Jan. after I returned from a cruse healthy. Everyone but me was coughing and no one was wearing a mask but me. There have been complaints for years about the close unfiltered air environment.
    The fault lies with the people who ignore complaints and value profits above customer safety. When population density reaches a critical level epidemics result. History clearly shows that. You have ignored that fact at your own and others’ risk.

  69. To Sharon…you should go focus on those bigger things in this world instead of reading this board and wasting your time commenting and name calling. How we all spend our time should be no concern of yours.

    I flew CUN-STL last Friday and 737-800 was 100% full. I can’t count the number of times the SWA pilot came on to thank passengers and how many times the FA’s thanked passengers. At at time when SWA already has the best cancel/change/rebook policies in the industry they have even done more favorable actions for the consumer (capped flights at $199 flights last week). I rebooked a flight online in 30 seconds and got $300 back to my credit card because the price had gone down. No long wait on the phone, no hassle.

    Meanwhile, DL canceled an international flight that I booked for a one time event and told me my only option is to spend my $1300 as a future credit on DL. That $1300 is MY money and I have nowhere I want to fly on DL in the next 8 months.

    People will remember. I have no sympathy for the airlines that whine for bailouts while they continue to eliminate anything resembling customer service. Then they have the nerve to act like they are doing us a favor.

  70. Most people who have experienced disasters like a war in their life will agree that this whole thing is kind of very overblown our political correctness culture makes it that authorities no longer make decisions based on facts and costs and benefits basis like the previous generations did in the WWs, but they take decisions based on politics which lead to solutions that do more harm than cure. Why I say this; is because since it has been proven by science about the weak lethality of the virus for certain sections of the population. Authorities should come up with innovative ways to fight through without disrupting the economy. Because a recession would be even more lethal than the virus itself that’s why I just find our leader to be kind of short-sighted and dumb.

  71. United might be seeing a lot of planes less than full even after this emergency is over, they have refused to give refunds on canceled flights and their policy is to hold that money for 12 months, a lot of angry passengers saying they will never book with United again.

  72. @D May – my guess is, that won’t happen. Everyone with a bad airline experience always says ‘I won’t fly [insert airline name here] again’. But very few stick to that. Let’s not forget air travel is mostly a commodity and best price wins for almost everyone. So they’ll say that, and continue to fly that carrier they ‘hate’ as soon they are cheaper than other options. As the Spirit CEO once replied to a complaining passenger (Though only meant to be sent to internal team members), and I’m paraphrasing here, they like to complain, but they’ll fly Spirit again the next time they see that we are $1 less than the competition. They pay the lowest price, and complain later.

    That’s why we have basic economy fares so prevalent today. Flyers have proven, overall, and time and time again, that they’ll buy the cheapest fare – and don’t consider value, service, etc. That’s why we have airlines like Spirit, Allegiant, Ryanair, AirAsia, etc. that’s why initiatives like AAs more room throughout coach failed, even years ago (an initiative where American reconfigured and marketed planes with fewer rows and more legroom in the entire economy cabin, thinking they could get a price premium). That’s also why carriers like Virgin America couldn’t stay in business (got bought out), and why even domestic F has been consistently downgraded by the domestic carriers, prices down with it and giving out empty seats for free to elites.

    As long as people have a desire to travel, and the carriers stick to the more recent trend of prioritizing profitability over market share (ie, they’ll reduce capacity rather than sending out half empty planes..at least when the crisis is over), the planes will go out full. Every airline…even the ones people say they hate.

  73. I flew from Newark to San Diego on 3/19 and returned 3/21. On outbound there were 44 passengers with total capacity of 178 . On the Return there were 77 out of a total of 166. First class on outbound was less that half full with no one next to me. Unfortunately on way back first class full and someone sitting next to me.
    Before the outbreak worsening I flew 2/14 newark to La and return San Diego to Newark and flight complete full each way. I flew to Tampa from Newark round trip 3/6-3/8. Both flights then were completely full. So since about 3/9 it’s been a significant drop in plane occupancy

  74. What I learned from this little study is, book premium economy, instead of biz or 1st class if you want to stay away from other people as far as possible. Even an economy seat could separate you more from other passengers.

  75. UA 1671 ORD-SXM on Saturday (21 March) was 2/12 in F and 0/114 in Y. The two in F were the pilots who flew the return flight so zero paying customers.

  76. The load factors might suck, but I bet the belly is full of cargo. Cargo space is at a premium right now.

  77. Captain for a major here. I survived 9/11 but I’m not so sure about this one (but frankly, it’s the least of my worries). I’m supposed to carry around a letter in my pocket saying that shelter-in-place doesn’t apply to me. 1000’s of pilots and flight attendants live in “crash pads” in NYC and yet we are all exempt from shelter-in-place and the NY-FL quarantine directives….look, we’re the ones that are going to spread the disease!

    I took 4 people from San Jose to Boston the other day. Shut this down for several weeks. Please Washington, make the call, because our illustrious leaders are waiting for you to make the moral decision for them.

  78. Like others have suggested, it seems to me that a (the?) key reason U.S. carriers are operating empty wide-bodies is that those planes are actually full below-deck. Cargo rates have skyrocketed as capacity dries up, meaning it may well be profitable for the airlines to operate these flights. That’s probably especially true for the transatlantic operations, explaining why EWR-TLV remains a 777-300 instead of a 787-8 or 763.

    From Air Cargo News on Monday:

    “Prices from Frankfurt to North America jumped by 56.6% compared with a week earlier to $2.74 per kg, while from Chicago to Europe there was an 87.6% increase to a (Tac Index) record of $2.06 per kg.

    ”The increases come as carriers have been slashing bellyhold capacity from the market – on the transatlantic it is estimated that belly capacity is down by 90%.”

    Source: https://www.aircargonews.net/airlines/airfreight-rates-continue-to-rise-as-capacity-crunch-goes-global/

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