Looking for good flight tracking

Many flights aren’t in the air. They’re on the ground. Such as mine, UA7157 from IAD to BOS. It was supposed to depart at 2:35pm. It’s 4:30 now. The plane was delayed out of Philadelphia, and is on the ground now at IAD (Dulles, Washington DC). We’ll board shortly.

Meanwhile, I’m looking at flight trackers. Flyte.com can’t find the flight at all. Flightstats says it leaves at 4:09. So does FlightAware. Here’s an announcement…

Turns out 7157 has a new plane with 15 fewer seats….

It’s now 5:30. I’m still at IAD, only now on flight 822, which was due to leave at 5:15. I volunteered for it, and got a free round trip voucher for doing that. I still have a window seat, but in 12F on a 757, which has no window, but rather a large blank space from which the rushing sound of the plane’s ventillation system roars.

Anyway, we’re not going. Soon as I sat down in the plane, they announced that a bolt was loose in a wheel, and we would be delayed at least 45 minutes, or perhaps an hour.

The Verizon cell signal is too poor in here to do the fancy flashy stuff that most or all the flight tracking sites use, so fuggit. I’ll try to sleep.

[Later…] Got in at 7:10. The fix didn’t take that long, and I netted a free round trip for the trouble. Coulda been worse. Now to bed for real.


  1. Eric Link’s avatar

    I’ve had good luck w/ american airlines mobile; aa.com on your mobile should get you there I think. Worked great for met when I needed it. Funny, those green screen guys for ‘the old days’ understand minimal interface for mobile hehe

  2. Prolific Programmer’s avatar

    Have you tried fboweb.com? I dunno how it does compared to the others, but we’ve been able to track my flights (for airport pickup, ostensibly, at Heathrow and the Bay Area airports) accurately.

  3. Dragonslayer’s avatar

    The problem with flight tracking websites is that they seem to be merely portals for the official airline information. If United doesn’t post the delay, the flight tracking services don’t either.

    I used to see this all the time on RJs from smaller airports. I’ve been in Fargo looking at 2 to 4 hour delays with most online sources saying the flight is on time. The only online source that was posting accurate delays was the airport itself. The front line airline agents were updating the airport information which in turn was available online. No flight tracking portal was picking that information up.

  4. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Eric, I almost never fly American, so aa.com isn’t useful to me if that’s all it covers.

    Prolific, I’ll check fboweb.com when I’m in a position to see whether it’s right or not.

    And Dragonslayer, I believe your analysis is correct. Services are no better than their data. If that data isn’t coming through, misinformation will result.

  5. Robbie’s avatar

    sounds like an entry I read over here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/RickStrahl/~3/179400768/181870.aspx

    at least you’re home now

  6. Mic Edwards’s avatar

    I recently read that you can get much more accurate information about flights (like the real reasons for delays, etc) by looking at the cargo websites of the airlines, rather than the passenger websites.

    Worth a try!

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