It doesn’t seem possible, but air travel continues to become more stressful, even for run-of-the-mill flights.
In the United States, the TSA may soon ban laptops in carry-ons. And let’s not even mention the security of your mobile devices and data while traveling. Then there’s actually getting through the security line with all of your belongings, and dignity, in tact.
Once that’s done, there’s the small problem of your flight actually arriving on time. There is no worse feeling than getting the airport and realizing a flight has been seriously delayed, or even canceled.
But there are a number of great iPhone apps that can help your track flights an much more. While individual airlines usually have their own apps, standalone flight tracking apps are often times more accurate and update more often. They are also perfect for a trip using multiple airlines.
1. App in the Air (Free, in-app purchases)
Perfect for: Frequent travelers and business passengers who spend a lot of time in the air.
Instead of just a flight tracking app, think of it as your virtual and multi-faceted travel assistant. Each flight is split up into four different stages, check-in, boarding, take off, and landing.
The app will track each step including providing wait times for check in, security, and customs. All that information is accessible in the app’s timeline.
And that’s far from all that’s included. For every major airport worldwide, you can see the current weather, any flight delays, and currency info. Other app users provide handy tips regarding what to expect at the airports like the best restaurant, where to access free Wi-Fi, and more.
Thanks to TripIt integration, you can remember and keep track of all your flight history handy.
While all this information is awesome, you will have to purchase some features inside the app. App in the Air is completely free to download and try out on the iPhone, iPad, and even Apple Watch. But a subscription is needed to unlock real-time flight status updates, automated check-in and the option to subscribe family via SMS.
That costs $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year. It’s a significant amount to spend, but it’s probably worth it if you travel often.
2. FlightStats (Free)
Perfect for: Travelers on a tight budget who are looking for real-time information and journey planning.
After downloading, flights are accessible by entering the flight number, airport, or route. Each flight can be seen on a map overlay that shows information like city labels, the actual flight path, the current radar, and more.
Apple Watch wearers can use the companion app to quickly view up-to-date flight information. You can even customize a complication for a specific watch face that automatically updates.
You can also search for airports to view a delay index and the weather forecast. As a nice touch, it’s easy to quickly bring up previous flight searches from the start page of the app.
Using the Today Widget, you can quickly view specific flight information without even opening the app. When you need to use the app, a 3D Touch on the icon will quickly send you to the most recent flight information or the search page.
Since the app is free, you’ll need to be ready to deal with ads on certain screens, but they aren’t enormously intrusive.
3. The Flight Tracker ($5.99)
Perfect for: Users looking for a premium ad-free experience with a flight board, notifications, reminders, and multi-device syncing.
A completely ad-free experience, The Flight Tracker features detailed departure and arrival information for any flight in the world. Both your terminal and gate information update in real time.
Along with being able to sync with a TripIt account, any layover information is automatically shown in the app. Users can receive push notifications for departure or arrival changes, gate and terminal changes, and flight status changes. When picking up a friend or family member from the airport, you can also schedule flight departure and arrival reminders.
Also designed for the iPad as well as the iPhone, flight information is synced in iCloud. You can also save and share flight information through email, text, and social networks. It will sync with calendar information as well.
A fun feature is the flight board and map that shows all flights for a specific airline or airport.
4. FlightAware Flight Tracker (Free, in-app purchases)
Perfect for: Anyone looking for a basic ad-supported flight tracker with push notifications.
Along with being able to track any commercial flight worldwide in real time, FlightAware Flight Tracker can also keep tabs on private and charter planes in the United States and Canada. You can search for flights by aircraft registration, route, airline, flight number, city pair, or airport code.
When viewing tracking data for a flight, you can also see complete flight details and a full-screen map with a NEXRAD radar overlay.
Customizable push notifications can be enabled for flight departure and arrival information, cancellations, gate changes, delays, and diversions.
Using GPS location from your iPhone, you can even view nearby aircraft lying overhead
You can make a $2.99 in-app purchase to permanently remove all ads. Along with the iPhone, the app is also designed for all iPad models.
5. Planes Live (Free)
Perfect for: Budget-conscious travelers and anyone who enjoys watching and identifying planes and helicopters in the sky.
Another good free option, Planes Live is a great choice for both travelers and anyone who enjoys just watching planes in the sky. Planes Live can track both airplanes and helicopters in flight around the world.
Push notifications can provide information including flight status, cancellations, new departure and arrival times, and more.
For an individual airport, you can view a departure and arrival schedule, time zone, local time, and forecast. Adding it to the My Places section allows easy access. If you live near an airport, you can view planes nearby on the app. Smart filters allow users to track a particular airplane or manufacturer and even watch planes at a selected altitude, speed, or flying to a specific airport.
The app is ad-supported, with no option to remove the ads even for a premium fee.
Hopefully, with one of these five apps, tracking any flight will be a lot easier and maybe even help take some difficulty out of air travel. There are many other apps that can help you plan and make the most of a vacation. Don’t forget to heed our advice and keep your devices safe while travelling too.
Do you use one of these five apps? Is there one that we missed that’s even better? Let us know in the comments.