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Flight knowledge: Do you know what the flight numbers mean?

Editorial 2109 Flight numbers

Have you ever asked yourself precisely what the flight number signifies? Practically everyone knows the airline code at the beginning, but what do the numbers after it mean? Do you know what they mean? We’ll bring order to the world of flight numbers, and decipher Lufthansa’s, as an example.

Airline abbreviations first: IATA code

The airline is always at the beginning. So Lufthansa is identified as LH, Eurowings as EW, Austrian Airlines as OS and SWISS as LX. After the letters, there’s a number.

What does the first digit at Lufthansa tell you?

The first number says where the flight is going or where it is coming from. With Lufthansa, for example, the following rules apply:


  • LH000 to LH399 to / from Europe
  • LH400 to LH499 to / from North America
  • LH500 to LH599 to / from South America / Africa
  • LH600 to LH699 to / from the Middle East
  • LH700 to LH799 to / from Asia

Recognize the start or home country

And how does it continue with Lufthansa? You can tell the departure or home country of an aircraft from the next number. In precise terms: if the number is an even number, the aircraft is departing from its home base (outbound flights), an odd number means the aircraft is returning home (inbound flights).

Scheme per airline

But not all airlines base their flight numbers on direction and origin/destination. The formula can vary from one airline to another. It is also possible that certain number ranges indicate the length and distance of the flight.

Flight numbers for special occasions

But there’s no rule without an exception. Lufthansa allocates special numbers for particular circumstances. For example, for an Airbus maiden flight, like the Airbus A350, this was given the flight number LH350 for its Lufthansa promotional flight.


Flight knowledge – fast facts that you won’t forget…

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