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Why are Europe to North America flights so early?

Why are Europe to North America flights so early?

Oct 26th, 2010, 01:09 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2010
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Why are Europe to North America flights so early?

Why are the latest flights out of Europe to North America around 6 pm? LHR goes out the latest at 8. FRA is a real pain at 6pm. All of these flights seem to land in North America in the early evening. Why can't I find a 9-10 pm departure getting into North America at midnight? It would give me a full day in Europe rather than having to pack up by noon to connect. The only reason I can think of is to turn the equipment around in North America for the red eye back to Europe.

I would think an airline would have a big advantage scheduling a late flight out to give full days to outbounders. Let's say United departs LHR at 9:30 landing at 00:30. They use the equipment domestically for the day getting it back for the redeye to Europe.

I am flying back to Europe more often and am reminded of how annoying this was years ago when I was doing regular trans-atlantic flights.
Edward_Grau is offline  
Oct 26th, 2010, 02:08 PM
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How are people living in non-hub USA cities to get to their final destinations without having to overnight? If a flight from LHR did not get into JFK, ORD, LAX until midnight, this would prove inconvenient and costly for passengers not residing in those cities.
mjz_kc is offline  
Oct 26th, 2010, 02:34 PM
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In addition, an aircraft returning to the US at midnight will be parked overnight - which is at least 6-7 hours. Hardly the best utilization for it.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 26th, 2010, 02:49 PM
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Plus, how's an US-based airline going to get a flight plane flying out of LHR at 9:30p? AA (and BA) has day flights JFK-LHR, but that has to depart JFK at around 8:30a to get in at LHR around 8:45p. To get a plane to depart LHR at 9:30p, it has to depart JFK even earlier. And even worse for other city-pairs.

Or that US-based airline has to leave a plane in LHR (or elsewhere in Europe) for many hours if it flew as red-eye over the night before. That is the reason why most European-based airlines have later departure to the US than US-based airlines. The European airlines can utilize their planes on other routes and then time a late afternoon departure to the US, arriving early evening and then turn around back.

Don't think the airlines haven't considered all these.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 26th, 2010, 02:51 PM
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The OP, or anyone else for that matter, can fly from London to JFK at 8pm, or London to Boston at 7.30pm.

Those planes will sit overnight in the US and then make daytime flights back to London.
DonTopaz is offline  
Oct 26th, 2010, 09:47 PM
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If, say, you're flying from London to New York and you land at 6 p.m., by the time you get through customs and arrive home, it's pretty late already _ particularly when you factor in jet lag.
andrews98682 is offline  
Oct 27th, 2010, 12:39 PM
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Rizzuto. A UK bound aircraft leaves the US between 6-10 arriving in UK 8-12. The equipment sits until the return just as it would overnight in the US. I am sure the UK carrier uses that plane for a round or two before the return to US. I would fly US equipment out of UK at 10, land at 1, and use that equipment the next day in the US for a couple of Chicago, Charlotte, or Atlanta rounds or one west coast round. It then can do the red-eye back overseas.

andrews98682. If you are on London time, you sleep home. If you are on US time, you tough it out. What I am saying is if you fly all the way to Europe, it is a pain to pack up by noon on the return day. I am tired already and would like a full day there. This is especially useful if you fly US-UK red-eye and come back the same day. It would at least give you a full 12 hours on the ground there.
Edward_Grau is offline  
Oct 27th, 2010, 01:08 PM
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The traffic between Europe and North America is extremely heavy and is extensively organized. The current arrangement routes all eastbound (Europe-bound) traffic during the nighttime hours, and all westbound (America-bound) traffic during the daylight hours. Flights can fly from North America to Europe during the night, and then return during the day after a few hours' layover, and then repeat the cycle after a few hours in North America. By having all traffic moving in one direction at a time, traffic planning and control is simplified.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Oct 27th, 2010, 01:09 PM
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It's all about connections for the passengers, not just equipment usage.

Eastbound transatlantic flights from North America (which, is, incidentally, a big place, with several time zones) generally are timed to arrive in Europe in time for passengers to make same-day connections onward and for business people to put in most of a day's work. They do so by arriving in the early morning to mid-afternoon at the latest.

Westbound, the longhaul planes (which are totally unsuitable for short- or mid-range connection services either in Europe or NA) are generally timed to arrive in late morning or early afternoon so that they can then be turned for the evening eastbound departure. If you looked at the flight logs for most aircraft in TATL service you'd see that most of them truly don't spend much time sitting on the ramp amassing negative revenue. For NA-based airlines, sometimes the equipment will go TATL westbound, then do a cycle to S. America (which often has a worse utilization cycle than TATL) in order to keep the planes in the air earning money. In Europe, some of the European airlines cycle their planes to Asia or Africa for the same reasons. But for the most part, i.e. UK or Western Europe, the 8- or 9-hour time differential, coupled with slot management, prevailing winds, and equipment turn/cleaning etc. times, makes for very high efficiency utilization of the aircraft, with planes actually in the air for up to 20 hours per 24 hour period.

London < > East Coast is the only time you can live with a 5 hour time change. Midwest < > continental destinations is 7 hours; west coast < > continental is 9. With prevailing winds that always add 60 - 90+ min. to westbound flights, coupled with mandatory US immigration and customs adding at least 90 minutes to passengers' connection times in the US/Canada, there's no way a departure from UK/Europe after around 6 PM European time can deliver pax for onward connections in N. America. London > NYC, Boston or DC is okay, but for the midwest and beyond, forget it.
Gardyloo is offline  
Oct 27th, 2010, 01:23 PM
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As a European tourist travelling to North America, I'd find it very inconvenient to arrive later than 6pm in New York or L.A.
Especially if I did not only have to take a cab home, but care about hotel transfers or even rental cars etc, and drive to whereever I need to go around midnight local time.

And, as rkkwan said, a US carrier leaving Europe at 10pm had to start in the US at around 5 or 6am local time (8hr flight plus 1hr turnaround). Which would make it more or less impossible to have feeder flights to the hub. So it would limit the number of potential passengers/ customers to those who live in or very close to the hub city.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Oct 27th, 2010, 02:01 PM
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Another major factor are connecting flights. Not all passengers on a Europe-US flight end their travels at the terminus of the TATL flight. They make a connection on to another city necessitating another, or even two, flights. If the TATL flight arrives too late an overnight would be required.

Conversely, flight from the US to Europe must consolidate passengers from many originating cities, not just where the flight originates. If the TATL flight leaves too early, those passengers cannot be adequately collected.

And yes, I know NYC is somewhat of an exception. Nevertheless...
NoFlyZone is offline  
Oct 30th, 2010, 04:55 PM
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In 2002 I did exactly what the OP wishes it was posible to do: A late flight out of LHR to North America. My meeting southeast of London ended at 4:30 leaving plenty of time to make a 9 PM flight to Toronto on Air Canada. Normally I would have stayed the night and gone home the next day at a more civilized hour but I was pressed for time. My flight was not very full and this late departure is no longer in the timetable.
Gavin is offline  
Oct 30th, 2010, 06:32 PM
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Bring back the Concorde! lol
rkkwan is offline  

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