This is one of the most common questions received by our customer service team. Hopefully, this very simple breakdown will help you understand why, and how it can cause a delay as well.
If you’ve ever taken a flight as a human and experienced a layover where you had to change flights it was likely at a hub, United has a hub in Chicago, Delta in Atlanta, Continental in Houston, and so forth. FedEx is no different, except the two major hubs are Memphis and Indianapolis.
Why? Because direct flights simply wouldn’t work. Even if they had a massive fleet of aircraft in the hundreds it wouldn’t be economical to have direct flights. A FedEx plane departing from Los Angeles doesn’t only contain packages going to New York.
An Economic Example:
You are shipping from Salt Lake City to Tampa Florida. A direct flight is 1,888 nautical miles, flown on a Boeing 757-200 series. This is roughly a 6.25-hour flight, burning an estimated 6.000 lbs of jet fuel per hour, at a cost of $7 per gallon, or about $32,812.50 one way. But are there enough packages going from Salt Lake to Tampa? In reality, you might have 25 packages making that trip, at this cost (which does not include flight crew and maintenance) each package would cost $1,312 to send. If you put those same packages on a flight to Indianapolis with over 700 other packages going to other destinations your cost drops to just about $30. This takes into account the much shorter distance from Salt Lake to Indianapolis as well. Then you send it the remainder of the way on a second flight with other packages going to Tampa and double the cost to $60. Again, this doesn’t include the other hard and soft costs but does show why the hub system is far more efficient. Once the flight lands and the packages are sorted, that same plane can be reloaded with things going back to Salt Lake eliminating the need for a private air force. And keeping costs far more reasonable.