Where does FlightStats get its flight status information?
Complete, accurate data is the cornerstone of our business, and what sets us apart from competitive solutions:
- Geographic Coverage - FlightStats provides definitive information for approximately 99.5% of U.S. flights, and better than 86% of flights worldwide.
- Completeness - FlightStats queries multiple sources to create a record for each flight, enabling us to offer a broader range of information (for example, gate information).
- Accuracy - We have invested heavily in the areas of parsing, interpretation and error checking, and we have developed the logic that enables handling of difficult issues such as cancellations, diversions and changing schedules.
- Codeshare Support - Our codeshare logic enables us to deliver flight information for both the operating and the marketing carriers, filling what is often a major gap in coverage.
Real-time data sources include:
- FAA ASDI Data Feed
- European Data Feed
- GDS (Sabre, Amadeus, Apollo, Galileo)
- Direct Airport / Airline Data Feeds
Batch data sources include:
- Innovata Schedules
- TSA Security Wait Times
- Security Information
- Health Information
- Consular Information
Is the information accurate?
There are many factors that can affect a flight while it's in the air. Weather, air traffic control directives, congestion on the taxi-ways and more. The arrival times we publish are estimates give the best information we can get. We update that information every few minutes. We can't guarantee the accuracy of the information. But our estimates are rarely off by more than a few minutes.
Where does flight positional information come from?
Most flight tracking applications use a single source of data - the US Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) data feed. The ASDI data feed tracks flights primarily within the United States' controlled airspace and contains information for flights controlled by air traffic control.
Pilots file a flight plan with air traffic control before take off that contains information such as:
- the expected departure time
- estimated arrival time
Once the flight departs, the FAA publishes information about the position, altitude and speed of the flight as well as estimates on arrival times. For security reasons the information published on the ASDI feed is delayed for 5 minutes. FlightStats supplements FAA data with data from other sources including airport and airline data feeds to give you both runway and gate times whenever possible.
To track European flight positions, we use a data feed compiled by AirNav Systems
from a network of interconnected positional receivers that gather ADS-B global positioning system (GPS) data transmitted from planes operating in European air space.
What if I don't know the flight number?
That's not a problem. You can get a list of all flights arriving at a given airport by selecting the "By Airport" tab. Or you can see a list of all flights on a given route by selecting "By Route". You can usually figure out which flight you should track from the route and timing information.
What if the flight is a code share (marketed by one airline and operated by another)?
FlightStats can help you find the right flight to track even if it's a code share. A code share is essentially a marketing agreement between two airlines such that the flight operated by carrier A is marketed as flight by carrier B. For example, Lufthansa 9355 is operated by (UA) United Airlines 938. The only information that comes across the ASDI stream is the information for the operated by flight (for example US 938). Some flight tracker tools require the user to know the operated by flight number. FlightStats does the mapping so that the code share flight number can be used instead.
Can I see the flight's location on a map?
Yes. All you need to know is what airline they're using and their departure or arrival cities to zero in on the precise geographic position and estimated arrival time of their flight. The new flight tracker combines the power of Google™ Maps with FlightStats up-to-the minute flight data to show you the exact location of the flight over a standard, satellite or hybrid map of North America or North America. And our airport trackers show the current location of all flights in the vicinity of a specified airport. Please note that the location data is delayed by five minutes for the safety and security of the flight and its passengers.
Why don't all flight trackers give you the same information?
To be useful to travelers and family members, flight trackers often have to fill in some of the gaps in the FAA data, gate times, for example. There are other variables, too. There is typically, but not always, a message sent to the FAA on departure. In the cases where that message is not sent, a flight tracker needs to make a best guess about the actual departure time. The same goes for arrival times. The methods that the various flight trackers use to guess vary causing discrepancies in information provided by different flight tracker tools.
Can I track international flights?
Our coverage of global flights is the best in the industry. We cover more commercial passenger flights than anyone in the world. In addition to our complete coverage of North American flights, we cover flights operating in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and just about everywhere else. Our coverage varies from continent to continent. But we are continually seeking data sources to help us fill in the gaps. Our coverage spans the globe and we show you more in-depth information than anyone.
Can I schedule alerts by email or to my mobile phone?
Yes. All you have to do is register with FlightStats and fill in your notification preferences in your profile. Once you've done that, you can receive notices by email or text message to a PC or mobile device. We'll notify you if anything changes and when the flight arrives.
Is the arrival time runway time or gate time? What's the difference?
Flight status tools are available on airlines' websites, at airports and other websites show the flight's published departure and arrival time, as well as the estimated or actual times. Most, but not all, flight status tools show gate times not runway times. Some tools like ours will show you both the gate times and the runway times. On arrivals, the runway time is the time the plane touches down on the runway. The arrival gate time includes the time it takes to taxi to the gate. On departures, the gate time is the time at which the plane pulls back from the gate. The runway time for departures is the time at which it takes off and includes the time it takes for the plane make its way from the gate through the queue of planes waiting to take off.
Can I see data for all arrivals at my airport?
Yes. Click the "By Airport" tab. Type in the airport code if you know it. If not, type in the city name and select the airport code from the drop-down box. Select the date and the time period for the flights you want to see, and hit "Go". You'll be able to scroll through an entire list of arriving flights. If you see a flight you want to track, click on the flight number for detailed status information. For flights that haven't yet departed or are en route, you can click on the cell phone or email icons to schedule alerts.
Can I track all flights on a particular route?
Yes. Select the "By Route" tab. Type in the airport names or codes for the departure and arrival airports, specify the date you want to use for the search, and select "Go". You'll see a list of all flights on that date for connecting those two airports. If you see a flight you want to track, click on the flight number for detailed status information. For flights that haven't yet departed or are en route, you can click on the cell phone or email icons to schedule alerts.
How can I see the on-time arrival performance for a flight I'm tracking?
When you get to the flight status detail screen, under the arrival information, you'll see the flight's on-time performance percentage, its average delay, and its overall FlightStats rating (five stars is best).
Can FlightStats give me gate information for arrivals and departures?
More often than not, we can give you both the departure gate and the arrival gate for a flight. Both data points are open to change due to airport traffic conditions. So you should check back often or schedule an alert to let you know if the gate information has changed.