I think the key to an enjoyable travel experience is being informed. People tend to have their worst experiences when a flight is unexpectedly delayed or cancelled and they have no idea what to do next. This lack of information is the exact reason I started writing my "Travel Tools" posts. My goal with these posts is to provide you with some tools that keep you informed and help streamline your travel experience.
In this edition of Travel Tools, I'd like to to highlight FlightAware. FlightAware was founded in 2005 and is the world's largest flight tracking data company. They were the first company ever to offer free flight tracking services to consumers, and now have over 12,000,000 passengers using their service! I want to go over some of the basic functions of FlightAware and show you why it's such a valuable tool.
You can create a FlightAware account on the their website or simply download their app and do it on your phone. FlightAware offers four different account types, but for 99% of travelers the Basic account will work just fine. It's completely free and you still have access to all of their basic functions.
Live Flight Tracking
Curious what the air traffic looks like over the continental United States? Check out FlightAware's live flight tracking feature. You'll have access to up-to-date information on almost every single flight in the entire world.
If you click on any one of the thousands of planes above it will tell you what airline it is, the flight number, departure airport, arrival airport, and travel time information.
If you're looking for a specific flight you can use their search tool too look it up by airline and flight number or by origin and destination.
If you want to stay up-to-date on the status of your upcoming flight or If you just need to pick up a friend at the airport, you can set up automatic flight alerts. FlightAware's basic account allows you to have up to five flight alerts at any given time. You start by entering the airline and the flight number and then selecting the date(s) you want to be alerted. After that, you can choose if you want to be alerted after the flight is scheduled, departs, arrives, is diverted, or even cancelled. Last but not least, you can select the contact method and you're all set.
Airports & Aircrafts
If you're interested in viewing a specific airport, or even following a specific aircraft, you can add a handful of favorites to your FlightAware account. In my case I've added Eppley Airfield to my favorites, but I don't have any particular aircrafts I'm tracking.
Each airport listed will show you it's basic information, any airport wide delays, live flight tracking, weather, departures, and arrivals.
How I Use FlightAware
My favorite feature of FlightAware is being able to track your inbound plane. On the days I fly I always look up my flight and then click on "Where is my plane now" and It'll show me exactly where my plane is at any given moment. This information can be extremely valuable in anticipating upcoming delays and cancellations.
FlightAware is a fantastic tool, not only for tracking your own flights, but the flights of family and friends as well. It's basic features allow you to stay up-to-date on exactly what's going on and hopefully keep you a step ahead of any delays or cancellations. As I said above, the key to an enjoyable travel experience is being informed, and FlightAware does just that!
Are you using FlightAware? What are your favorite features?