Flight Tracker, by FlightAware

If you are a frequent traveler, FlightAware might sound familiar to you. Why? It’s the biggest live flight tracking website on the web! However, for those of you who are staring blankly at your screen, I’ll go into more detail. FlightAware, founded back in 2005, was the first company to offer free flight tracking services for both private and commercial air traffic in the United States. It quickly became the most popular flight tracking service in the world and on the web.

Airlines and other aviation businesses rely on FlightAware to provide live flight data, airport information, weather maps, flight planning, and navigation charts, as well as aviation news and photos. They also power operational management and dispatch software, airport flight information displays (FIDS), and provides reporting data to aircraft and airport operators.

After success via the world and the web, the company moved into the mobile industry by creating Flight Tracker for iOS, Blackberry and Windows. Now, at last, it’s Android’s turn!

What Does It Do?

Flight Tracker gives users the ability to check their flight’s status, its gate/terminal, any changes, delays or cancellations, and the connection status. Users can even use their GPS to see nearby aircraft flying overhead, zoom and pan around the world, and click on various flights on a map for more information. In a nutshell, Flight Tracker puts you in the air traffic control seat right from your smartphone.

How Can It Help the Average User?

If you find yourself on plane more often than a couch, this is a great app to put next to Angry Birds on your home screen. Why? Because it works. Travelers often find themselves searching through their laptop bag, wallet, purse, backpack, and all the other unnecessary luggage just to find their tickets because they forgot their landing time. Wouldn’t it be easier to have all your flight information on a screen that you actually knew the whereabouts of?

On top of that, the app provides you with information that your regular paper ticket cannot. You can view the weather conditions in both your current location and you destination, share your travel plans with friends and family via social media sites, and stay up to date with everything regarding your flight and airports.

To Get Started

When you launch the application, you are immediately greeted with the home screen asking how to track your flight. You can select to track with a flight number, tail number, or flight route (city and airport). Below these three is the option to log into your FlightAware account if you already have one.

FlightAware Homescreen

From there, you can set up flight alerts or view current airport activity by pressing the bottom menu button. The app gives you the ability to track the real-time status and position of airliners and private flights. It gives you the aircraft’s current speed, altitude, and position just like FlightAware’s website.

When checking the information on your flight(s), the information screen shows a progress bar at the top followed by the status of the flight (departing, en route, cancelled, delayed, etc.). Below that is the origin information which includes the airport, city, terminal, gate, and leaving time. Then there’s the destination information giving the same details. This is followed by a “more info” tab giving the flight’s current speed, altitude, and current duration of the flight. To view the flight tracking map, scroll to the bottom and click, “View Flight Map.” When the map loads, you can use multitouch and pan and zoom. In other words, you know everything the pilot knows.

1) Flight Information 2) Flight Tracking Map

And the app doesn’t stop there: there’s also a “My FlightAware” section that is fully customizable to your liking. It’s easily accessible from anywhere within the app by tapping the menu button and selecting “My FlightAware.” This area has three tabs:

  1. My Airports
  2. My Aircrafts
  3. My Alerts

In “My Alerts,” you can view your current aircraft notifications. From the bottom of any aircraft tracking page, click “notify me” to add an alert for that specific flight to your alerts list. Now, whenever there’s an gate change, delay, or anything new, you’ll be immediately notified – quite handy. Also, if you have a FlightAware account, your alerts will be synchronized between the app and the original site.

Delays Window

In addition, the guys at FlightAware took note to common frustrations that might arise while using this app. The most common one? Losing where you were by accidentally exiting the app. That’s why they built in “autosave,” so when you relaunch the application, you return where you left off. Finally, no app could be complete without some form of social media integration. You can share your flight info via email, Twitter, and Facebook!

Problems…

No app is perfect, and that includes FlightAware Flight Tracker. Some users have reported crashes on the MyTouch 4G, slow loading time, problems backing out of the flight info page, and problems zooming in on the maps. In addition,the app is 4.2MB in size which means it takes up a lot of memory – but hey, it’s not even a week old! I’m sure that the FlightAware team are already working out the bugs and glitches.

Summary

For such a beloved online application, an Android app was a must. Thankfully, FlightAware pretty much nailed it by bringing all the features we know and love from the browser to our pocket. The little bugs and glitches can be easily looked over when considering what the app is actually capable of. The social media integration was a great addition and the ability to always be up to date with airport and aircraft alerts is genious. In my opinion, I’m wondering why you haven’t downloaded it already!


Summary

FlightAware, the world leader in flight tracking offers the only free flight tracking/flight status app for your device.

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