There are very few websites out there that I can’t do without, and FlightAware is one of them.
This clearly shows my colors as a true airline dork, but I’ve found that many normal people love this site as well. Basically, it’s a real-time flight tracking site, but it’s ease of use and wealth of historical information make it an excellent resource.
If you have friends or family traveling to visit you, you can come here to see when they’ll actually arrive. Be warned, the times on here are when the plane touches down, not when it’s at the gate. I’ve always found it to be quite accurate, but the latest release a couple days ago says that they are improving the accuracy by updating the arrival time more often throughout the flight.
If you’re traveling yourself, you can check out how long your flight has been over the last few days to get an idea of how long your flight will be. It’s amazing to see how weather and wind can dramatically impact the route and flight time depending upon the day you travel. For example, look at American flight 280 from LA to Miami. Yesterday, it took 4 hours and 16 minutes on a fairly direct route. Back on October 27 though, it took 4 hours 31 minutes and it went pretty far north.
Ok, now that I’ve let my dorky side show, I might as well get into the rest of it. You can see arrivals and departures by airport, and now you can even see it my aircraft type or airline. That doesn’t really do anything for normal people, but I love looking at the landing and departure flows for various airports. The only real downside? It doesn’t work outside the US. Bummer.