Image: jahdakine @ Flickr

Have you ever landed at an airport and wanted to know the status of your next flight as your plane taxied to its gate (w/o wading through your airline’s voicemail system?)

Want a quick way to check flight status on your laptop before leaving your office or hotel? – or while riding in a cab to the airport?

How would you like to send a 5 or 6 character SMS to someone, and get your flight status sent back to you as a text message – in a matter of seconds!?

Doing so is very simple, and the tools I’ll describe below will enable you to quickly check your flight’s status – even if you’re flying Aeroflot, Kuwait Airways, or just plain old United…

For your laptop or desktop:

This couldn’t be much easier! Go to www.flightstats.com and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click on “Personal Tools” and select “Widgets and Gadgets.”

If you’re using Google Reader or iGoogle, simply click on either the “All-in-One Widget” or the “Flight Status Widget” and you’re all set. The interface is simple and works wonderfully. These tools also work with Microsoft Live. Here’s what the widget looks like on iGoogle:

FlightStats flight search

The amount of information you get from FlightStats is quite thorough; here’s a partial screenshot of the flight data itself:

FlightStats flight tracker

On the go: your web enabled PDA or cell phone:

You have a number of options with web enabled cell phones or PDA’s:

  • Simple: go to your browser and go to: http://mobile.flightstats.com/go/mobile/. Bookmark it. Choose the first option (Flight Status) & then the first option on the next screen (Flight Status by Flight) and input your flight number (for the example shown above, that’s WN1953 -for Southwest flight #1953. You’ll get the essential flight status details – departure and arrival times.
  • Simpler: bookmark Google in your browser. Google your flight #, using the proper IATA airline designation* – again, in our example that’s WN1953. Your Google results will be from FlightStats, and you’ll see full details on your cell or PDA’s display. (This of course works just as well on your office or hotel computer!)
  • Simplest and very slick: Put Google in your cell’s or PDA’s address book, with 466493 as their mobile phone number. SMS them (@466493, of course) your flight # (e.g., WN1953) (NOTE: you MUST capitalize both letters of the airline’s IATA airline code*) and Google will send you a text message with flight status details. In my experience these text messages arrive back on my cell phone within 10-15 seconds. If there are 4 segments to a flight, you’ll get 4 text messages. What could be easier?? Try it – it works great!!! Here’s a representation of what you’ll receive:

(Standard fees apply, of course.) This number works domestically; I haven’t been able to identify an International number for Google – if I’m able to find it, I’ll add to this post later.

*If you are in doubt as to your airline’s IATA code, go to http://www.airlinecodes.co.uk/airlcodesearch.asp and you can find it. You are probably familiar with the IATA codes for the airlines you fly; just in case, here are the codes for several domestic airlines:

  • United UA
  • US Air US
  • Continental CO
  • Northwest NW
  • Southwest WN
  • Delta DL
  • Midwest YX
  • American AA

Try these approaches out – in my opinion, the web enabled PDA/cell phone approaches are the best – and certainly the simplest, regardless of whether you’re at home, your hotel room, or dashing through an airport. Enjoy – and please travel safe!

-kc 7.29.08

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2 Comments on How to quickly check flight status – whether you’re online or on the run!

  1. Oftherock says:

    Thanks! This is great. I wonder if this is also available for us here in Asia at this time? But I will go online and check.

    I like the feel of this new blog. Must be nice to have your own domain rather than be hosted by wordpress.

    Thanks for this great post.

    I am subscribed to your posts – very helpful.

    God bless

    [Reply]

  2. kc says:

    Thanks for your kind comments. Check out WorldMate Live – I believe it’s http://www.wmlive.com — a great little app for your blackberry or other web-enabled cell phone. The bad news, they charge $99US / year. kc

    [Reply]

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