How to Track the Status of Your Flight in Real Time

Google and FlightAware are among the tools that can help you determine if your flight will be delayed—often even before the airline announces it.

view from below an airplane flying through sky with clouds

If you’re wondering where in the world the airplane you’re supposed to be boarding soon might be, a flight tracking service can help.

Courtesy of Unsplash

Perhaps you want to track the status of your flight so you’re aware of any delays or changes that could affect your plans. Or maybe you want to double-check the anticipated arrival time of your loved one’s flight before heading to the airport to pick them up. Maybe you’re curious where the plane you just disembarked is going next. Or perhaps you saw a plane overhead and are wondering where it’s going. There are myriad reasons why you might want to check the status of a flight.

Luckily, there are tools to help you do that. Here are some of the best apps and websites for tracking a flight, and how to use them to check a flight’s status.

Flight status trackers

There are various apps and websites that share information on when your flight is expected to depart and land, but some can also give you a deep dive, pulling information like previous flights on that aircraft and what the weather looks like at the connecting airports. Here are a few flight trackers we recommend.


A screenshot of a the status of an American Airlines flight on Google

Entering your flight information into Google can help locate estimated departure time, terminal, and gate.

Courtesy of Google

One of the easiest and fastest ways to check whether or not a flight is still slated to depart or arrive on time is to Google it. All you need to do is search for “[flight number] status” in the search bar (for example, “AA 2488 status”) and hit enter. Google then aggregates various flight-tracking websites and displays the estimated arrival and departure times at the top of the page. Google will also display the most up-to-date terminal and gate information.


If you’re looking to get the complete picture of where a plane is on its journey—including real-time position—FlightRadar24 is a helpful resource that comes in the form of both a website and a free app.

You can really get into the weeds and look at data like all the scheduled arrivals and departures at a specific airport, including what type of plane it is and who it’s registered to (both commercial carriers and private aircraft owners). It’s also possible to see a plane’s flight records and everywhere it’s previously flown—including that day or over its lifetime, depending on how you set the search parameters.

If you’ve seen a plane overhead and are wondering where it’s going, FlightRadar24 can help there, too. It can pull all the planes flying within your vicinity. If there are multiple planes flying within your vicinity, it’ll share all of them, which makes it more challenging to figure out which one you’re looking at exactly, but it can help give you an idea.

Those who opt for the Premium service (which ranges from $10 to $500 per year, depending on the plan) can also learn more about the exact type of aircraft, how fast it’s going, and its altitude.


Like FlightRadar24, FlightAware offers flight tracking data for any commercial flight worldwide with the help of a network of servers that capture a plane’s position in real time.

Whether you’re a frequent flier or an aviation geek, there are many ways to use the free service (available in both app and website form). If you have the flight number, FlightAware can provide information about expected departure and arrival times. If you don’t have the flight number, the Flight Finder option can help locate the flight number (though you do need to know the aircraft’s origin and destination airport). FlightAware also offers an interactive MiseryMap, which can show you what airports are currently experiencing problems (and more specifically, what routes are seeing delays and cancellations that day).

FlightAware is available as a free app or website, with the possibility of searching for five flights per month. After that, there are a handful of premium plans, which range from $40 to $130 per month, depending on how deep of a dive you want to do, such as tracking more flights or following a specific plane over time.

How flight tracking apps and websites work

Flight tracking apps and websites track flights in real time, all over the world. They’re used to check the status of a flight, see if an inbound aircraft has any anticipated delays, observe the weather radar throughout the flight path, view the exact route a plane is taking, and determine what type of aircraft it is.

Typically, they work by crowdsourcing where planes are at any given time (which is possible because planes are constantly sharing their position with other aircraft and air traffic controllers for safety reasons). They gain access to this information through satellites.

Beyond letting you know if your flight will be delayed, flight trackers can help travelers get ahead of potential log jams, especially during busy travel periods (like the holiday season) or any time inclement weather threatens to derail your plans. Knowing ahead of time that your flight will be significantly delayed allows you to start proactively researching alternative flights and get yourself rebooked before everyone else on your flight starts flooding the help desks and customer service lines.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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