How Do Airplanes Get Their Flight Numbers? (i.e: American 1205)

Like, how. Do they choose, are they assigned, or what?


I guess what every they want :D Unless they used it already. They can use a number even if another airline has it (I.e. Delta 687 and American 687). If an AAL687 was scrapped they can reuse that number :)

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Um…thanks, I guess.

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I’ve always wondered this question, but like @JFKPlaneSpotter101 said, it’s probably what they want.

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I know that many airlines will have the route and its return in chronological order. Ex. Ha17 LAS-HNL, Ha18 HNL-LAS.

They have a region code.

Like for Qatar Airways,

  • QR 5XX is to the indian subcontinent
  • QR 0XX is to Europe
    and so on…
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Like Qatar, SAS also has numbers depending on where the flight is flying:

Site is in Swedish, be aware of that :)

Cathay use 1XX for Australian routes
2XX/3XX for European
4XX/5XX for NE Asia
6XX/7XX/9XX for SE Asia(Including middle east)
8XX for NA route


LH for example

  • LH 4xx North America
  • LH 5xx South America
  • LH 7xx East Asia

It’s normal that ‘outbound flights’ are numbered odd whilst the return sector is even.

For example Qantas 81 flys from YSSY -WSSS and the return flight is QANTAS 82

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someone can explain me how

easyJet get the EZYLLNN callsign?

L = letter / N = number

of course, Swiss uses flights number under 100 for international LXxx.
LX2xxx for national routes (ex LX2000-LX2818 for GVA-ZRH-GVA routes)
LX5xxx for maintenance or cabin changing flights etc…

EZY900x when empty aircraft going to a airport without making a commercial/passenger flight.

I thought it was like, American Airlines flight #21, would have the call sign, “AA21” or “American 21”

At LX and LH it’s the other way around :D

Many other european airlines use even numbers as outbound flights and odd for inbound flights

MaxSez: Wiki always has the correct ansewer to these type questions. Here’s an extract: “A number of conventions have been developed for defining flight numbers, although these vary widely from airline to airline. Eastbound and northbound flights are traditionally assigned even numbers, while westbound and southbound flights have odd numbers. Other airlines will use an odd number for an outbound flight and use the next even number for the reverse inbound flight. For destinations served by multiple flights per day, numbers tend to increase during the day. Hence, a flight from point A to point B might be flight 101 and the return flight from B to A would be 102, while the next pair of flights on the same route would usually be assigned codes 103 and 104.” (Wiki). See the full Wiki Text for the ICAO Conventions and the part an airline “Dispatch Dept” plays in Airline Operations.


The airline’s dispatchers issue the flight numbers for the flights days in advance. If there’s an American 501 flying, it’s the only one in the sky at that moment. Sometimes days later they might re use that same flight number. But the passengers go by that number too. It will say American 501 on their boarding pass too.