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SEA-IAD Higher Priority Than SEA-DCA?! (No, Priority Is Dynamic)

SEA-IAD Higher Priority Than SEA-DCA?! (No, Priority Is Dynamic)

Old Dec 27, 21, 6:18 pm
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SEA-IAD Higher Priority Than SEA-DCA?! (No, Priority Is Dynamic)

Totally counter-intuitive outcome. When booking my holiday travel, the return flight from SEA to Washington DC on Sunday, December 26, priced out over $500 higher for the SEA-DCA route than for the SEA-IAD route. Although the taxi or Uber ride from IAD - my home in DC is twice the cost of the ride from DCA to home, I figured it was worth saving the money.

Fast forward to Sunday, December 26 -- AS cancelled the single-digit AS 3 flight to DCA, but flew the four-digit AS 1078 flight to IAD!

What gives? My guess is that there were no members of Congress booked for December 26 into DCA, as Congress is still on recess, hence that was a lower priority than the IAD flight. Otherwise, I would have expected the single-digit flight numbers to have a higher priority...

As it happens, the IAD flight was delayed by 4 hours, due to insufficient # of de-icers at SEA -- yes, I know that SEA and Seattle in general do not handle snow very well! Still, I was glad to get home on Sunday night instead of having to wait until Monday to fly out.

What happened to all the SEA-DCA flyers on Sunday? Only a few seats were available on the SEA-IAD flight, so were they re-routed through PDX or LAX, or else had to wait until Monday?

Unrelated thought -- the new seats in the 737-900, even in F, sure are uncomfortable, especially after 9 hours!
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Old Dec 27, 21, 6:47 pm
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You may be overthinking this. Flight loads can be a determining factor.
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Old Dec 27, 21, 6:56 pm
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I'm not sure flight number is determinative characteristic of which flight gets canceled.
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Old Dec 27, 21, 7:24 pm
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Are you being serious? I'll assume you are, despite your tenure on FT...

You'll notice that AS3 was scheduled to fly on an A321 while 1078 is on a 737-800. That's not a simple swap of flight crews, it would require a pilot and first officer trained to fly on both aircraft types. No one on here has any idea whether such a crew was available, whether the A321 crew came down with COVID, or what. Christmastime isn't exactly a time of year where there are a ton of flight crews on-call, particularly in a remote station like DCA.

I've never heard of an airline that picks and chooses the flights they fly during IRROPs based on the flight number. Next thing you know, we'll end up in that Seinfeld episode where Kramer starts betting on which flights take off on time and what arrives first...
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Old Dec 27, 21, 8:08 pm
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objectivity is among the first casualties

this is FlyerTalk, but a lot of people morph it into FlyerRant (“It’s all about what happened to MEEEEEEEEE!”) when they’re personally impacted
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Old Dec 27, 21, 8:26 pm
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Originally Posted by sullim4 View Post
Are you being serious? I'll assume you are, despite your tenure on FT...

You'll notice that AS3 was scheduled to fly on an A321 while 1078 is on a 737-800. That's not a simple swap of flight crews, it would require a pilot and first officer trained to fly on both aircraft types. No one on here has any idea whether such a crew was available, whether the A321 crew came down with COVID, or what. Christmastime isn't exactly a time of year where there are a ton of flight crews on-call, particularly in a remote station like DCA.

I've never heard of an airline that picks and chooses the flights they fly during IRROPs based on the flight number. Next thing you know, we'll end up in that Seinfeld episode where Kramer starts betting on which flights take off on time and what arrives first...

Oh you will be surprised. I found AA2xxx flight numbers are more likely to experience irrops
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Old Dec 27, 21, 8:27 pm
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Originally Posted by flytoeat View Post
You may be overthinking this. Flight loads can be a determining factor.
Perhaps, except that the SEA-DCA flight was almost fully booked when I was making the reservations, while the SEA-IAD flight was wide open.

The correct answer, as I now realize, is that IAD is served by the 737, while DCA is served by the Airbii, and the crew for the latter probably wasn't available. (Alaska - Proudly All Boeing, with some exceptions...)
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Old Dec 27, 21, 9:16 pm
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Seen a lot of excuses on FT intended to justify why a person's flight/situation/continued loyalty should be an airline's top priority, but "my flight number was numerically nearer to zero" is a brand new one for me.

Last edited by Calculon; Dec 27, 21 at 9:17 pm Reason: typo
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Old Dec 28, 21, 12:35 am
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Originally Posted by Calculon View Post
Seen a lot of excuses on FT intended to justify why a person's flight/situation/continued loyalty should be an airline's top priority, but "my flight number was numerically nearer to zero" is a brand new one for me.
There is a bit of history behind these flights for sure...

I enjoy the Seinfeld reference. Soo many applicable ones to travel
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Old Dec 28, 21, 3:42 am
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Originally Posted by Calculon View Post
Seen a lot of excuses on FT intended to justify why a person's flight/situation/continued loyalty should be an airline's top priority, but "my flight number was numerically nearer to zero" is a brand new one for me.
I’m fairly sure someone in Network Planning spat their coffee reading this thread thinking “Gadzooks they’re onto us now”.
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Old Dec 28, 21, 12:00 pm
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While I want to throw in a bit of sarcasm into this thread, I'll not go there. The A321 in DCA has got to be one of the more challenging routes for AS. Their roster of qualified pilots is surely much smaller than for the B738/B739. In addition, DCA is not a normal airport. It requires additional qualifications to be allowed to operate into the airfield. It's been some time since I last read up on all this. The add'l requirements could include airport specific training (the approach is complex), short field procedures, and possibly security clearances (given proximity). So to believe there could be a shortage of available crew is quite reasonable, IMO.
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Old Dec 28, 21, 12:11 pm
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The moral of the story is to always book yourself on a flight with perishable organs on their way to a transplant. That will be the flight/crew that has priority over the others, and even for ATC purposes, over most all the others in the sky.
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Old Dec 28, 21, 1:12 pm
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Ben Minicucci clearly doesn't know what he's doing.
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Old Dec 28, 21, 2:21 pm
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Originally Posted by sullim4 View Post
Next thing you know, we'll end up in that Seinfeld episode where Kramer starts betting on which flights take off on time and what arrives first...
You're on, cowboy!
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Old Dec 28, 21, 2:26 pm
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Originally Posted by sullim4 View Post
You'll notice that AS3 was scheduled to fly on an A321 while 1078 is on a 737-800. That's not a simple swap of flight crews, it would require a pilot and first officer trained to fly on both aircraft types. No one on here has any idea whether such a crew was available, whether the A321 crew came down with COVID, or what. Christmastime isn't exactly a time of year where there are a ton of flight crews on-call, particularly in a remote station like DCA.
Flight crews are qualified to work the 737s, or the A320/A321 family, but not both.

Has Alaska opened an Airbus pilot base in SEA or are they all still based in LAX and SFO? If so, they're doing SEA-DCA as part of a multi-day trip that starts with a LAX/SFO-SEA flight. If that cancelled / was delayed, your DCA flight is a pumpkin.

Edit: Answer, no, Alaska has not opened an Airbus pilot base in SEA. 737 pilots are based in ANC/SEA/PDX/LAX(covering LAX and SNA). Airbus pilots are based in LAX/SFO. All Seattle and Portland Airbus trips are covered by pilots working multiday trips, rotating through.

Last edited by northwesterner; Dec 28, 21 at 2:32 pm
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