What Are the Different Ways to Track Flights?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Flight tracking apps are available for a variety of smartphones.
Flight tracking apps are available for a variety of smartphones.

Checking on the flight status of a plane allows passengers to know whether they will take off and arrive on time. The ability to track flights is also helpful for those picking up their family and friends from the airport, because they need to know when to arrive. One of the easiest ways to track flights is to go online to the website of either the airline or the airport at which the plane will arrive. For more flight statistics, including real-time updates, passengers can check sites devoted entirely to tracking flights. Those who prefer to use their phone to find out this information can either call the airport or look it up on a smartphone with Internet.

Most airports have a website that allows visitors to track flights. In most cases, all that is needed is the name of the airline, the flight number and the date of departure. The estimated times of departure and arrival at the destination will usually be shown once this information is entered, allowing passengers and their rides to know what to expect. It also is usually possible to check the airline's website for the flight status though, in some cases, this is where the airport gets its information. Therefore, checking the website of either the airport or the airline should suffice.

If either website is temporarily down, passengers also can check sites dedicated to tracking flights. In most cases, this type of site asks visitors to enter the airline name and flight number to get detailed information. For example, some sites show the real-time status of the flight, meaning it is updated frequently. There may even be a map on the website that shows an estimated location of the plane, allowing visitors to visualize the likely time of arrival. Such sites focus on tracking flights, so they can offer more details, including an average estimated time of arrival and departure based on past statistics.

Some people are more comfortable using their phone to track flights, especially when a computer with Internet is not available. Travelers usually have the option of calling the airport or airline to find out about any flight delays. Cell phones with Internet are also helpful, because they can often access websites that track flights. Some smartphones also feature downloadable applications that allow travelers to be alerted of any flight updates, because the flight is continually tracked by the application.

Discussion Comments


@ElizaBennett - That's a good idea! I'll have to try the text alerts next time I fly.

Something to be aware of is that planes are not always quite as delayed as they say they will be when predicting a delay. The time given will just be their best estimate! You might want to still get to the airport on time or not too late in case the plane makes up a lot of time in the air, etc.

But if it says the plane will be another hour, it won't be turning up right away! I once had a friend come to visit me and the airport wasn't far. I kept checking the airline's website to track the flight right before leaving for the airport, only to find out there was an additional delay! This happened like three times; poor thing (my friend) was delayed *on the tarmac* for four hours! Fortunately, the airport was nearby so I could work off the most recent information. If it's an hour and a half away, it's harder to know when to leave.


Another tip for tracking a flight is that many airlines will now allow you to sign up for text alerts! If your plane is delayed or has any other major changes, an alert comes to your phone.

But it's still a good idea to check the airline's website as a backup if you are able to get to a computer. (Or if you have made note of the number ahead of time, you can call the airline.)

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    • Flight tracking apps are available for a variety of smartphones.
      By: N-Media-Images
      Flight tracking apps are available for a variety of smartphones.