Where’s the plAAne?


The answer to that question just got a lot easier for most flights on American Airlines. Like more airlines American offers flight status information via their website. But, until today, only Continental Airlines has been able to offer up where the inbound aircraft for a flight was rather than just the current departure schedule. This is most useful when a flight is listed as delayed and it isn’t clear if they are likely to move the departure time around a lot or not; it is very hard to conjure up a spare airplane, particularly at outstations, when the inbound is delayed.

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The inbound flight tracking option goes away once the flight departs so you cannot track an aircraft back multiple stops to see where the problems might have started (OK,not really useful but something I’ve been known to do when I’m bored). But that’s the only minor issue I can see with the offering.

Still, overall this is a great upgrade in terms of transparency to the customer. United Airlines has already committed to expanding the feature to all flights in their system post-merger as they integrate onto a single operations platform. Delta may be able to tell you where your bags are but not where the airplane is.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

7 Comments

  1. Not many people are aware of flight aware, and even if they were, it isn’t worth the hassle for most. For an airline like AA or CO, I can see the need for this, but with basically all flights arriving on time, UA has no need.

    1. Hahahahahaha.

      Thanks, Kris. I always enjoy a bit of humor when I wake up. And that “basically all flights arriving on time” bit was a great laugh. Much appreciated.

      Seriously, look at the actual statistics:
      AA American Airlines Inc. 76.97
      AS Alaska Airlines Inc. 88.79
      B6 JetBlue Airways 70.99
      CO Continental Air Lines Inc. 76.36
      DL Delta Air Lines Inc. 81.11
      EV Atlantic Southeast Airlines 73.84
      F9 Frontier Airlines Inc. 79.12
      FL AirTran Airways Corporation 83.31
      HA Hawaiian Airlines Inc. 93.04
      MQ American Eagle Airlines Inc. 75.13
      OO SkyWest Airlines Inc. 79.05
      UA United Air Lines Inc. 79.58
      US US Airways Inc. 78.26
      WN Southwest Airlines Co. 80.07
      XE ExpressJet Airlines Inc. 73.90
      YV Mesa Airlines Inc. 82.97

      That’s YTD for 2011. You think the ~3% difference is really that significant? I certainly do not.

      As for going to the FlightAware site to get the data, yes it is an option. But I prefer the integrated source directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and without needing a separate site. Plus the airline-specific content is way easier for me on a mobile browser.

  2. Which month is that? Because the last month reported to the feds is October 2011 and UA was at 82% on-time that month.

    If you’ve actually got data I’d love to see it, but it seem to me the numbers you’re presenting don’t mesh with those publicly available and verifiable.

    1. Nice to see they had a good month. That should bring their YTD numbers up a bit, probably even over 80%. So that’s still about 20% of the flights where things aren’t running on time. Hardly “basically all” in my book, though if it works for you, so be it.

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