web Musings of The Global Traveller

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Plane madness

Having recently sorted out some tricky itineraries for a couple of longhaul trips I've turned my mind to another challenge. How many scheduled commercial flights can I take in a day?

A couple of years ago I flew 8 flights within the same calendar day - landing from the last flight some 15 hours after taking off on the first one. In theory it should be possible to fly more flights in a day. In practice it isn't that simple, at least not without throwing money at the problem. As I toy with sample itineraries some considerations include:

  • being able to check in for all flights in advance - not an issue for the airline I have in mind to do this on, unless they change the processes
  • price - needs to be affordable, which for me means not booking extraneous flights just in case and also booking at least a month ahead of when I'd fly it
  • schedule change impact - the tighter the connections the greater the problems with schedule changes
  • schedule change likelihood - the further in advance the booking the more likely there will be schedule changes
  • weather - where I live the weather is changeable and sometimes disrupts flights for a few hours to a day, some airports being more vulnerable than others
  • aircraft used on connecting or turnaround flights - at some airports it is predictable the same aircraft will be used for the next flight, thus reduce the chance of a misconnect due to late arriving flight, whereas other airports have many flights with higher misconnection risk
  • frequency - routes with high frequency of flights are less predictable in terms of same aircraft for connecting flight, possibly more vulnerable to cancellations (combining two flights into one), and also less likely that the flight will be held if only just misconnecting
  • facilities - everything being equal I'd prefer more time between flights at nice airports (or those with nice airline lounges)
  • time buffers to recover delays early in the day

I haven't yet booked this but I do have a sample itinerary with 10 flights in a day (also within about 15 hours) which I think is achievable.

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