My New App Obsession: Flightradar24

Filed Under: Travel Technology

Even though I work mostly online, I’m not actually very good with technology. That being said, I do love apps. All kinds of apps, as they’re great when on the go, and great for passing time while waiting to board a flight, waiting for an aircraft door to close, waiting for a hotel shuttle to pull up, etc.

As an aviation geek I’m shocked that I only recently downloaded flightradar24. I was familiar with, which is a great website for tracking flights. But I didn’t realize that they also have an awesome app.

There’s a free version of the app with limited features, and then there’s a “premium” version for $3.99.


With flightradar24 you can “zoom in” on virtually any airport and see all the planes that are on approach, taxiing, departing, etc. You can “click” on specific flights and see the flight numbers, where they’re headed, what kind of a plane is operating the flight, the flight time, etc.


And you can follow the specific course of a flight.


Or you can zoom out and look at “big picture” traffic patterns. For example, zooming out of Dubai, take a look at the traffic patterns over the Middle East. It’s pretty incredible when you see that so many planes are taking almost exactly the same route.


Or you can zoom out even further…


Or even further…


I’m sort of addicted. Sure, the app is useful for tracking an inbound flight. But more so than that it’s fun just for the geekiness of it all.

For example, a couple of weeks ago I was at In-N-Out at LAX, which is right under the approach course. It was awesome to be able to see exactly which planes were inbound, so you knew exactly when you could expect to have the “heavies” overhead.


Heck, even when waiting for takeoff it’s pretty awesome to be able to monitor how many planes are ahead of you and from which airline.

I realize many of you probably already have flightradar24, and I’m bummed I didn’t have it for so long. But now I’m hooked.

Anyone else use the flightradar24 app to please their inner airplane geek?

  1. Everyday!! I love the feature where you can just point it to the sky and see what planes are flying by.

  2. The $3.99 also adds a AR feature…look up at the sky…see a plane…press button…identify plane…

  3. I agree with Juan. I love the augmented reality feature to identify planes overhead. I use it most often to see where an plane might be headed. Sometimes it makes jealous and then I want to start planning my next adventure…

  4. Keep in mind that FlightRadar works on the basis of ADS-B technology so there are significant holes in coverage both geographically and with aircraft that don’t have ADS-B transponders on board.

  5. Been obsessed with this app for MONTHS! What’s great is you can go into the settings and turn on certain labels for the flights. On my iPhone, I just have “Route” turned on, so next to each icon of a plane is a label (“JFK-HKG,” for example). But you can also turn on callsign, aircraft, or registration, or others. Or you can stick with logotype.

    Really do love this app and its ability to pull realtime info.

  6. I love it! I usually sit outside on my balcony, very close to the approach of the 24R in YUL, and I check out the app to find out what’s the next plane that I’m going to see! For the heavies, it’s quite accurate. I see the plane passing in front of me at the same time as I see it in the app. For smaller planes, it’s sometimes less accurate (there’s a delay), but it’s still fun!

    It’s great to see where planes are coming from. The other day I saw a big one high above with contrails coming out. I fired up the app and it turns out it was an Asiana A380 doing New York – Seoul!

  7. Great free version, too! Lots of fun and cool uses: when waiting to take off, seeing what planes/airlines are on front/behind you, looking at plane info, seeing what airplanes are above you, and who can forget the best one: finding out the tens of places EK flies their A380s just because they can!

  8. I could’ve used this a week ago. At ALB, we taxied past a 727-200 that said “First Class Equine Transportation” on the side. (This is Saratoga racing season.) I had no idea a horse could charter a 727! Their website said the plane had arrived a couple of days earlier from Lexington, KY — no surprise.

  9. Had it for a couple years. Even Got the paid version for free with a Starbucks code quite a while ago. Great fun app!

  10. Flightradar24 is a fantastic site. I have been using it for about a year. I love how it shows the flights in real-time. My wife was flying LGA-ORD on AA and after she landed I was able to text her as she was on the plane and say here comes Terminal 1, now 2, until 3 where AA is. She thought it was pretty funny and asked, hey are you keeping an eye on me?! We both had a good chuckle.

  11. I think those ME traffic patterns (same route) are due to everyone avoiding flying over Syria, Iraq, etc.

  12. @ Tom,

    I was at LEX last week when the Tex Sutton 727 was landing from ONT, presumably bringing some equine passengers back from Santa Anita. In the past, it was not unusual to see a UAE-flagged 747 parked on the ramp at LEX during the September Keeneland yearling sales, as Sheikh Mohammed was often in attendance. Always a great sight, as a DL MD90 is about as “heavy” as it gets around here.

  13. I use Flightradar24 almost every day. It is a great tool for planespotting, or for just geeking out. You never know what you may come across.

    I also host a receiver for them. I have an antenna on my roof that attaches to a box in my attic. The antenna can “see” at least 100 nautical miles in all directions, and depending on conditions, up to 275 NM. Those interested can apply on their webpage.

  14. @lucky One of my favorite apps!! Also I recommend for you FlightBoard App which has been a huge life saver for me numerous of times and The FlightTrack Pro which to be honest was a much better app in the older versions but still an amazing one to have for us AV Geeks! Let me know your thoughts and your opinions!! Thanks Ben

  15. Sure a great app. Especially combined with STAR/SID charts and liveatc this can be a real timekiller.

  16. Together with the liveATC app this is the app i use the most. Great to sit at an airport watching them come in and fly out knowing where they come from or where they go. Even better to listen to the communication with ground, tower and aproach via the live ATC app.

  17. I’ll use it for spontaneous gambling. If I’m out with friends, and I see a plane above, I’ll ask everyone to put a $1 behind their guess. Closest originating city wins.

  18. I had the most fun with it whilst flying on Emirates. Connected to inflight wifi, zoomed in on our plane, then used the app to see which planes were flying past us in the opposite direction. Was kind of awesome to see that a BA 777 was approaching at the same flight level a few miles to the west, then spot it out the window. Sad I know, but it kept me amused!

  19. I use it just for the hell of it. I’d be much cooler when your onboard, have WiFi and tracking your own flight! 😀

  20. I’ve been using it for years to track airplane tail numbers, to see how new my plane is. It doesn’t make that big a difference in the end, but when you’re working with flexible tickets and an old cabin on one flight and a refitted on another, you know which one I’ll pick.

  21. The Augmented Reality function is AMAZING! It is by far the best feature of the app. You have to try it, Lucky!

  22. Totes! It’s a must-have for sure. It’s hours of entertainment and I’m glad you finally downloaded it!

  23. I love this app, you can change the setting to get a satellite view if you are following a particular flight. I love to see what’s flying overhead and knowing where they came from and where they’re going. It’s mindboggling that there are so many planes in the sky at the same time.

  24. I’ve been using FlightRadar24 for some time. I also have a couple of ADS-B receivers running and feeding data into FR24. BTW, if you’re feeding them data they’ll give you premium for free. I also like LiveATC and have found both very useful during IRROPs. At larger airports you might even be able to pick up the airlines’ own channel on LiveATC.

    Also, FWIW many airlines which offer WiFi will allow you to access their own website without paying for WiFi access. This means you can check flight status, make/change reservations without paying for WiFi.

  25. Used it to check on my inbound aircraft last month and found out that it had returned to LHR with mechanical problems. Able to rebook before BA even knew that our the flight was cancelled.Gotta love it.
    Be aware though that both FR24 and Flight Aware are prone to errors/omissions in reporting sometimesand obviously over the oceans they extrapolate without realtime data.

  26. Wow, I was just using Flightradar24 to see which planes I was seeing lights from ((it’s nighttime where I am) since whenever I see a plane I want to know where it came from and where it’s going. Glad there’s finally an app for that.

  27. The whole time I was reading all I could think of was sitting at the In-N-Out and looking up when the next A380 or 747 was inbound. Last year we watched our LH 748 land and then a few hours later took that plane to Frankfurt. So cool!

  28. I use FR24 very often and the premium subscription is well worth the cost. On my last trip through LHR, I had it running on my laptop to see what planes would pass me while I was staying at the airport Renaissance. It was great to catch a variety of heavies from around the world.

  29. I rely on it entirely for plane spotting!

    i have alarms set for certain aircrafts so even if am busy with something I would know if a custom livery or a rare aircraft is inbound my nearest airport (BAH)

    Last march it was VERY handy when DOH was closed for bad weather

  30. Like poster Al (above) I also downloaded the paid version for free via australian American Express website. When the app is open, click on the binoculars and point it to the sky to any planes overhead and it tells you the info! I was blown away by that feature.

    I had fun with the app a few weeks ago in the Singapore airlines first lounge in Sydney, sat by the window overlooking the runway and had great views of planes on their incoming approach. When all I could see were tiny yellow dots in the distance (plane floodlight) I would look on the app and it would tell me what plane it was. Helped pass the time prior to my flight and kept me very amused.

  31. Haha!
    Have been a fan of this app for almost 2 years now!! Because as you said.. just for the geekiness of it! It also comes quite handy when me or someone I know is flying.. like to know where the aircraft is coming from, is it delayed, etc.

  32. I’m addicted for quite a long time now.
    I bought an additional screen to actually have a dedicated Flightradar24 screen.

  33. I’m sort of shocked you’ve not encountered this sooner. I live in central London where the heavies on LHR final approach regularly pass over my flat @ 3,000 ft. The app has been amazing for sharpening my livery spotting

  34. I live one mile from DPK VOR ( which I’m sure 98% of people driving past have no idea what this big disk with a over sized traffic cone on top is), it’s cool to sit in the back yard listening to LiveATC telling aircraft to cross DPK at FL 15 zero and knowing where they are coming from and where they are heading

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