Here are the best flight-tracking apps for travelers and airplane enthusiasts

best flight tracking apps
Trevor Mogg
Air travel can be stressful, but you can take some of the pain out of it with one of the best flight-tracking apps for Android or iOS. For plane enthusiasts keen on identifying what’s passing by overhead, travelers on trips, and loved ones at home waiting to meet incoming relatives and friends, these apps can prove invaluable.

Most airlines offer their own apps, which can be used to check in, get boarding passes, and track flights up to a point, but the apps below take things further with real-time tracking of planes in the air and a host of additional features you may find useful.

You may also be interested in the best travel tech and tips, and, just in case you run into trouble with a flight, you should read up on what to do when your flight is canceled.

Flightradar24 (Free)

Flightradar24

Our top pick is absolutely packed with flight-tracking features. The free version enables you to watch aircraft in the skies in real time, check on estimated departure and arrival times, and search by flight number, airport, or airline. For enthusiasts, the app includes photos, historical flight data, and even a 3D pilot view. If you need a greater depth of data, then you can spring for the Silver ($1.50 per month or $10 annually) and Gold ($4 per month or $35 annually) versions, which give you more flight history, live weather overlays, aeronautical charts, and more. There’s also support for the Apple Watch and Android Wear.

iTunes Google Play

FlightStats (Free)

FlightStats

If you want something more straightforward, then this app offers real-time flight tracking and the ability to search by flight number, airport, or route. There’s a simple status page that shows scheduled and actual times of departure and arrival, a map view with the position of the plane in question, and additional information on weather, gates, and possible delays. This flight-tracking app is completely free, but you will have to put up with some ads and, sadly, there’s no option to pay for an ad-free version.

iTunes  Google Play

ADSB Flight Tracker (Free)

ADSB Flight Tracker

Plane spotters and aviation enthusiasts are the intended audience for this flight-tracking app. ADSB stands for automatic dependent surveillance broadcast, which picks up on aircrafts broadcasting their positions. This app has ADSB receiver functionality, so if you plug the right hardware into your phone, you can get live data from the skies. It shows the positions of planes with flight numbers on a 2D top-down map, or you can opt for a 3D view. This one is just for Android devices.

Google Play

Plane Finder – Flight Tracker ($5)

Plane Finder - Flight Tracker

If you’re an iPhone owner and a plane spotter, then this app could be what you’re looking for. It employs ADSB and MLAT (multilateration) to pinpoint real-time plane positions. It also sports a nifty augmented reality mode, so you can hold your iPhone up to the sky and identify the planes overhead. You can search by flight number, location, airport, airline, and aircraft,  as well as create and save your own search filters, and even set up custom alerts so you’ll know when a particular plane is nearby. With a simple status page and real-time updates, it’s also capable of simple flight tracking. You can get versions of this app for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and iMessage.

iTunes

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