The World’s Most Prestigious Flight Number

Routes with a flight number of one often conjure up images of prestige, importance, or difference. They may also reflect a historical point in time, a technological advancement, or the specific market or passengers, although they are perhaps outdated nowadays. Arguably the most famous of all were BA001 and AF001: Concorde services from London and Paris to JFK. British Airways later reused 001 on its all-business-class operation from London City to JFK using the A318.

Emirates A380
Emirates’ EK1 from Dubai to London Heathrow has more capacity in mid-August than any other Flight One route. Photo: Getty Images

Routes with a flight number of one

Looking at the (randomly chosen) week starting August 9th, 2021, many routes will use 001. These range from Emirates EK1 from Dubai to London Heathrow by the 517-seat A380 to Direct Flight DCT1. This is a 47-mile service connecting the tiny Scottish airports of Lerwick and Fair Isle in the Shetland Islands using a nine-seat Britten-Norman Islander.

Finnair, Airbus A350, Stockholm
Finnair Flight AY001 operates from Helsinki to Los Angeles, a distance of 5,614 miles. The full-service airline began the route in March 2019, and it is now its second-longest after Helsinki to Singapore. In early August, Los Angeles will operate three-weekly using the 336-seat A350-900. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Long-haul routes using Flight One

The 001 number is most directly associated with long-haul routes. Some 13 non-stop routes over 3,000 miles are bookable this coming August week, as follows, ordered here by total available seat capacity. Most of these use the flight number from their hub or main airport. There are just three exceptions: all Japanese airlines returning to Japan.

  1. Emirates: Dubai to London Heathrow; seven-weekly by the A380
  2. Turkish Airlines: Istanbul Airport to New York JFK; seven-weekly; B777-300ER
  3. Aeromexico: Mexico City to Madrid; seven-weekly; B787-9
  4. El Al: Tel Aviv to New York JFK; six-weekly; B787-9
  5. Delta: New York JFK to London Heathrow; five-weekly; B767-400ER
  6. LOT Polish: Warsaw to Chicago O’Hare; four-weekly; B787-8 and -9
  7. Finnair: Helsinki to Los Angeles; three-weekly; A350-900
  8. Etihad: Abu Dhabi to Frankfurt; three-weekly; B787-10
  9. All Nippon: Washington Dulles to Tokyo Narita; three-weekly; B787-9
  10. Japan Airlines: San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda; three-weekly; B787-9
  11. WestJet: Calgary to London Gatwick; twice-weekly; B787-9
  12. Biman Bangladesh: Dhaka to London Heathrow; once-weekly; B787-8
  13. ZIPAIR: Honolulu to Tokyo Narita; once-weekly; B787-8
WestJet 787
WestJet first used the flight number WS1 from Calgary to London Gatwick in 2016. At the time, it was served by the B767-300ER, of which the airline had four. Now, WestJet has six B787-9s, with more on order. The 789s have 320 seats, with 276 in economy, 28 in premium economy, and 16 in business. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia.

Emirates Flight 1

Emirates’ EK1 from Dubai to London Heathrow will, as usual, leave the UAE at 07:45 and arrive in the UK at 12:25 local time. The significance of this specific flight is such that it was Emirates’ first A380 service to resume in July 2020 after four months of no activity.

Looking back to 2004, this specific flight was previously operated by the B777-300 (non-ER) before the B777-300ER also began to serve it the following year. The A380 made its first appearance in late 2008, the year Emirates received it first received the A380. However, EK1 wasn’t the first flight to see the carrier’s A380. That was New York JFK (EK201) in August 2008.

The World’s Most Prestigious Flight Number
Because COVID and the UAE being on the UK’s red list, Emirates’ Heathrow service in August is far less than usual. However, EK1 will operate. Photo: Getty Images

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EK1: Dubai to Heathrow

The departure time of EK1 falls in the Emirates’ largest departure wave from its Dubai hub, which remains so even during COVID. This can be seen below. This means passengers from large numbers of origins connect onto it, with previous analysis looking at exactly where Emirates passengers went in 2019.

Emirates' arrivals and departures at Dubai on August 9th, 2021
This is how Emirates’ arrivals and departures at Dubai are structured on August 9th, 2021. Leaving at 07:45, EK1 falls into the largest outbound bank, with most flights in this bank going to Europe and North America, together with parts of Africa. Image: OAG Bank Structure.

Shorter routes using Flight One

Nearly 30 other routes also use flight number one on a non-stop basis. This August week includes Southern Express’ service from Memphis to Destin Executive Airport, a distance of 379 miles using a nine-seat Cessna 208 Caravan. This often takes about two hours.

It also includes an array of other different and exciting services, such as:

  • Cape Air’s White Plains-Provincetown
  • Sky Express from Athens to Kozani
  • Safarilink from Nairobi Wilson to the Massai Mara
  • Ravn from Dutch Harbor to Anchorage
  • Lufttransport: Bodø to Værøy (helicopter service)
  • Auric Air: Lake Manyara to Grumeti (Tanzania)
  • Nauru Airlines: Nauru to Brisbane
Nauru_Airlines B737-300
Nauru Airlines’ Flight ON1 uses the Boeing 737-300 on the 2,060 miles from the Pacific country of Nauru to Brisbane. It has a block time of four hours and 35 minutes. Although bookable, it is unclear whether they’ll actually be operating. Photo: Chris Trott via Wikimedia.

Flight One: the top-10 shorter routes

The shorter routes with the most available seat capacity are as follows. While the list includes Dubai to Doha, arguably one of the world’s most exciting routes, it is led by Hawaiian HA1 from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Using a 278-seat A330-200, this leaves California at 07:00 local time and arrives in Hawaii at 09:45. (AA1 falls outside of the top-10 on account of being operated by very low-capacity A321Ts.)

  1. Hawaiian: Los Angeles to Honolulu; seven-weekly; A330-200
  2. Spirit: Fort Lauderdale to Chicago O’Hare; seven-weekly; A321
  3. JetBlue: New York JFK to Fort Lauderdale; seven-weekly; A321
  4. Alaska: Washington National to Seattle; seven-weekly; A321neo
  5. Nok Air: Bangkok Don Mueang to Chiang Mai; seven-weekly; B737-800
  6. Skymark: Tokyo Haneda to Fukuoka; seven-weekly; B737-800
  7. Air Macau: Beijing Capital to Macau; seven-weekly; A321
  8. flydubai: Dubai to Doha; seven-weekly; B737-800
  9. SAS: Luleå to Stockholm Arlanda; seven-weekly; A320neo /CRJ-900
  10. Southwest: Dallas Love to Houston Hobby; six-weekly B737-700/MAX 8
B61 from JFK to Fort Lauderdale
While this article was written, JetBlue Flight B61 was en route from JFK to Fort Lauderdale. On July 21st, it was operated by N995JL, a 3.1-year-old A321ceo with 200 seats. JFK-Fort Lauderdale was JetBlue’s first route all the way back in 2020. Image: Flightradar24.com.

AS1: Washington to Seattle

Alaska’s AS1 is one of only a handful of routes to see the former Virgin America A321neos, each with 190 seats. As you’d expect, the type is mainly deployed on longer routes (the average distance is 2,046 miles) and are primarily transcontinental. Such routes benefit from stronger economics. (AS1 used to be Fairbanks-Anchorage-Seattle by Boeing 737s.)

Alaska A321neo
At the time of writing, AS1 is flying just south of Chicago with three hours and 44 minutes left to Seattle. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

At 2,329 miles, National to Seattle is Alaska’s second-longest A321neo route in this specific week after Boston-Seattle. Looking back to 2019, Alaska had an 86.8% seat load factor on it, according to the Department of Transportation’s T-100 statistics.

What Flight One routes have you flown? Share your experiences by commenting. 

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