FlightAware released the newest version of its app (released in October), allowing DC travelers to check on the latest unnecessary “snowquester” flight cancellation from the convenience of their iPhone (or other smartphone OS). Using a mix of data from air traffic control sources, FlightAware can track any flight, commercial OR private, in real time, keeping the user completely informed about a flight’s status. Not so bad when you’d rather avoid the $9 “happy hour” at DCA. No, no, we’re NOT bitter.
And the app delivers this information in several different packages that would keep everyone from the data geek to the anxious traveler happy. When you first open the app, it asks you to search for your flight via flight number or tail number (if any of us knew what that was). But there’s another search option that any disorganized person should be excited about: lo and behold, FlightAware allows you to identify your flight via route (city or airport pair). This means no more frantic scrolling through unread emails in search of that confirmation number.
Selection of a flight will prompt this page, showing you the bare-bones status of your flight. The app even generates departure/arrival times, gate/terminal number, and baggage claim information for your flight.
But more importantly, it is just one click away from the rock star of all flight-tracking features: A full screen, live-updating tracking map so that you can actually WATCH your aircraft make its way across the globe. You can pan around the world map, zoom in, check the altitude, speed, and weather. Just looking at stills of the map feature makes you feel like you’re on the verge of finding Carmen San Diego. Now if only we could afford to use our airline’s Wifi to use it.
Finally, users can save flights and schedule notifications via whatever platform they choose. This is particularly useful if you are juggling several flights with different schedules within a short period of time.
As a recent college grad who would be lucky to scrape together enough free miles for one flight a year (read: I am poor), some of the features on this app, such as the map tracker and the flight notifications, seem a bit superfluous. But for frequent globe trotters or people who travel for work, this app is likely a godsend. In fact, creator and CEO Daniel Baker thought of FlightAware when he ran into a pesky problem–that his friends and family had no source for tracking his private plane. Needless to say, the rest of us at Tech Void could only dream of having the kind of problems that FlightAware was intended to address.
Nevertheless, after a walk through FlightAware’s features, it’s apparent that it’s a powerful, data driven app. After all, the online website is the number one flight tracking site in the world, providing not only free services for everyone, but commercial services for those in the aviation industry. Aircraft engine manufacturers, for example, will purchase tracking data from FlightAware to help them establish trends in flight conditions. Private terminals often purchase FlightAware products to help them regulate flights. This app isn’t run by group of twenty-somethings who wanted to wear flip-flops to work. It’s run by a fast growing web-based company that provides a service with seemingly endless potential for application.
For more information on FlightAware’s app, check out their weirdly stoic how-to video below: