Yesterday (31 January 2023), a friend was scheduled to fly from Palm Springs to San Josť on Southwest Airlines flight 1326, their only non-stop on the route. Four hours before the scheduled 11:55 am departure she received a message sayng the flight had been delayed nearly 1.5 hours, to 1:24 pm. It didn't take long to track down that her aircraft, N235WN, had started the day in St. Louis with a flight to Dallas, but that it had diverted to Oklahoma City. Looking at Dallas-area weather it was easy to see why the flight had diverted.
Eventually, the DAL-PSP segment of WN 1326 cancelled, but not PSP-SJC. Some digging revealed that the aircraft had changed to N477WN, which was at Burbank with its next two planned flights being WN 1809 to Oakland WN 8507 to Palm Springs. That would be a little tricky, yes? It was hardly a surprise when the Oakland flight cancelled a few minutes later.
WN 8507 seemed like an unusual flight number and airlines often use high flight numbers for unusual operations, including ferry flights. A look at recent history of this flight number showed an odd assortment of routes, including a flight from Paine Field (which isn't a Southwest station but has various maintenance facilities, along with a rather large aircraft factory) to Phoenix. When it arrived at Palm Springs, the doors opened and boarding started immediately, without anyone having gotten off the aircraft, confirming that it was a ferry flight.
The cancelled BUR-OAK flight was the fourth of eight Southwest non-stops on the route, scheduled just 45 minutes after the previous flight and 1:40 before the next flight. With mid-day loads likely being light and good backup options avaiable it was a good way to recover the PSP-SJC flight, other than the expense of operating a (short) ferry flight. (The other seven BUR-OAK flights all arrived early.)
Today's Featured Map illustrates this epic. Blue represents flights that operated more-or-less as planned, at least up until diverting in the case of WN 6321 STL-DAL. Red shows cancelled flights. Finally, gold shows unplanned operations: the diversion (and continuation) and the ferry flight (Southwest 8507 BUR-PSP, the namesake for today's Featured Map).
References and additional information:
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Karl L. Swartz.
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