The best flight tracking apps for iPhone and iPad

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As a demonstration of technology, this is very impressive. Of course, Siri can give you some of this same information (“What planes are overhead?”), but it’s not presented in such a graphical real-time manner.

flightradar virtual

Point your iOS device at the sky, and Flightradar will tell you what it sees—even through the clouds.

The app can also show any airport’s arrivals and departures, via a $2 in-app purchase. A $5 in-app purchase allows you to create custom alerts that are triggered based on geographic location, flight number, airline, or aircraft. While this was fun to play with, it’s a spendy in-app purchase without much real-world use, at least that I can envision. One final $2 in-app purchase replaces the generic aircraft icons with model-specific representations; I found this useful, as it makes it easier to find a given type of aircraft in a sea of hundreds of icons.

Wrapping it all up 

There are tons of flight trackers out there, and most of them are really quite good. The ones I’ve focused on here do the job particularly well, and provide all the information you’ll need, whether you’re doing the traveling or the picking up.

Of course, my testing was a miniscule drop in the daily bucket of airline flights (a handful out of tens of thousands), so there’s no way to extend my limited test results and say that every app tracks every flight nearly perfectly. My advice is therefore to always back up one of these apps with an occasional check of the airline’s own app or website, just to be certain of the times on your flights.

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