Transportation disasters: List of retired flight numbers?

For no particular reason, where could I fint a list of flight numbers or vessel names that have been retired from use due to disaster of some kind?

For example, no airline flights will ever be called “Flight 93” any more. Who’s in charge of not re-issuing forbidden numbers or names?

I don’t think it’s true that all airlines retire certain flight numbers. For example, Pan Am Flight 103 was the one that exploded over Scotland, but I still found flights numbered 103 in Northwest and United’s timetables.

Ah. I was just assuming these numbers were retired forever after a disaster. Surely, there’s still some kind of list, though.

I doubt it. Most flight numbers have some reason to them, and retiring a number could mess up the system. I’ve never heard of any such official list, and it wouldn’t carry over across airlines in any case. Over the years, there have been enough crashes and such that the numbers would be in the hundreds.

Data point: Qantas Flight 93 - daily Melbourne to Los Angeles.

Well, would a particular airline retire a particular flight number if they had had a crash? For example, did PanAm retire 103 or TWA retire 800 (both of which before they went out of business, of course.) Heck, since American bought TWA, does American use 800?

Airline pilot here …

Not that I’m an expert on this topic, but in general it seems each airline retires a flight number that crashed, while other carriers continue to use it. The logic is that what’s become (in)famous is the phrase (e.g.) “TWA800”, not the number “800”, and so somebody else, say Northwest, is free to keep using 800 without giving off bad vibes that scare away customers.

The whole idea that numbers scare people is nuts, but that’s human nature.

Interestingly enough, 9/11 seems to be an exception. As best I can tell, people don’t much remember the three flight numbers other than 93, and they can’t recall which airlines’ airplanes ended up where. Clearly the airlines involved were trying like mad to make sure their names were dropped from the news coverage as soon as possible.

Wasn’t it customary at one point for the airline to send a crew out to paint over its name on the fuselage of a crashed plane?

My father has a lot of photos of crashed planes from his air traffic controller days at Gander airport in Newfoundland. Mostly planes running out of runway or running off the edge of the taxiway rather than major disasters, but the first thing that happened was the airline name covered over with a tarp or something. It seems to be still the norm today for accidents at an airport. The last thing that the airlines wants their passengers to see as they taxi out for takeoff is the wreck of the previous flight sitting at the end of the runway (or even a slightly damaged plane in front of a hanger).

In most airplane crashs, there are hardly any pieces left big enough to show an airline name or logo. Only in minor accidents, mostly on-ground ones, would the plane not be largely destroyed.

Not to get morbid here but to me it seems the most infamous flight number was Korean Airlines Flight 007. That flight I would say received more media attention than any crash and I bet if you just mention KAL007 to anyone, they’ll probably instantly remember. (and that was over 20 years ago.)

Needless to say, I turst Korean Airlines has had the presence of mind to retire that flight number.

Even in particularly severe crashes the tail section often stays relatively intact.

I was going to reply that I hadn’t heard of that one, but then I realised that I don’t remember any flight numbers of crashed aircraft despite having a professional interest.

Okay, for those that are unaware of the circumstances of KAL007, here’s a link:

There are many others on the Internet.

As I thought, I’m familiar with the incident but didn’t remember the flight number. I’m familiar with many aircraft crashes but probably couldn’t name a single flight number (other than KAL007 now). Obviously other people do remember flight numbers and so the airlines prefer not to reuse ones that have crashed.

I wonder if it is just as much because the crews wouldn’t like it either?

It doesn’t take an actual incident for a flight number to cause problems: BA223, the London - Washington DC flight that suffered various calcellations due to terrorism worries, has since been renumbered to stop people avoiding bookings on it.