A Test Drive of the Flighty App, a New Flight Tracking Tool

Last month, Brad posted about the launch of the Flighty app, a new flight tracking tool.  Aimed at fans of the defunct Flight Track Pro, Flighty promises “the ultimate flight tracker with pilot-level data, the smartest fastest notifications, and clean refreshing design.”  So I decided to put it to the test on my recent trip to Japan.  For the most part, I found it really helpful, with a few areas for improvement.

Disclosure: I am a Flighty beta tester, and receive otherwise paid Flighty Pro features for free.  Flighty did not otherwise compensate me for this review, or offer compensation for referrals.  All opinions expressed are solely mine.

Flighty App Basics

For those who remember Flight Track Pro, the interface feels relatively similar.  To begin, type in a city pair or flight number, then select a date.  You can choose today, tomorrow, date of your next flight, or pick from the calendar.

Flight app flight search

The display then shows all nonstop options between the city pair on that date.  You can then filter by airline, and hide codeshares if desired.

Flighty app search results

Flighty app airline filter

Filtered search results

Just click on your flight to add it to your profile.  Once you do that, all added flights appear on a single display screen.

Flighty app profile display

You can also click on any flight for the flight’s routing, along with your plane’s tail number and filed cruising speed.  It also displays various contact info for the airlines if you need it.

Projected flight route

Plane info from Flighty

Anyway, with that quick tutorial out of the way, let’s take a look at the pluses and minuses of the new Flighty app.

Flighty App – The Good

A Familiar Delay Forecast Tool

If you loved the bar graph delay forecast tool in Flight Track Pro, you’ll like this.  Flighty provides a very similar delay forecast tool in its app.

Flighty app delay forecast tool

A Great Incoming Flight Tool

Other tools, including airline apps, offer incoming flight info.  But Flighty takes it to another level, showing 25 hours’ worth of incoming flight data.  In this case, I could track my all the way from Los Angeles the morning before.  That really helps spot potential problems early.

Flighty app incoming flight info

Excellent Push Notifications

The Flighty app offers a variety of push notifications; I activated all of them for this test.  The notifications begin when it’s time for check-in.  Flighty’s notification came in at the same time as Delta’s.  Additionally, the push notification provides the website of the airline.  One thing to watch for – the time shown displays in local time at the point of departure, not where you are currently.

Flighty app check-in push notification

Meanwhile, once you’ve checked in, Flighty provides a wide variety of notifications.  These include weather at the destination, incoming flight arrival info, gate assignment, baggage claim info, airport delays, and more.  Perhaps the most useful are the notifications of your inbound plane once it’s on its final leg.  In this case, while still in Tokyo, I could monitor the creeping delay on the plane to take me from LA back to Dallas.  Also, the app warns you if your connecting flights depart out of different terminals; it’s hard to see, but at the bottom of the second screenshot. (If the notifications become bothersome, you can choose which ones you want.)  I found the various notifications quite accurate; delay notifications matched those put out by the airline, and gate/baggage claim data was always correct.

Flighty App miscellaneous push notifications

Additional push notifications

Also worth noting, once the captain files a flight plan, you can see your full, actual route.  While enroute, you can also see how your actual route compares to the filed one.

Flighty app enroute flight map

A Helpful Alternate Flights Finder

This functionality went live in an update after my trip, but Flighty also offers a somewhat useful “alternate flights” tool.  For example, if you have a morning flight from Dallas to Tulsa, Flighty lets you see all other flights that day at the push of a button.

Alternate flight finder

Flighty app alternate flights listing

Alternate flights continuation listing

While somewhat helpful, this does have a couple of limitations.  First, the flight you’re booked on also shows up in the list.  Second, the list is limited to nonstop flights between the city pair.  Therefore, you can’t search for connecting flights – a significant limitation, though admittedly a difficult one to remedy.  I imagine a display from Dallas to Los Angeles, for example, becomes unusably large if you add all connecting possibilities.

Flighty App Areas for Improvement

While I did find the app quite useful overall, I did note a few areas for improvement.

Incoming Flight Info Unreliable for Non-US Carriers and Southwest

As useful as the incoming flight display is, it unfortunately doesn’t always work for non-US carriers.  I flew three foreign carriers on this trip: Korean Air, Asiana, and ANA.  Both the Korean Air and ANA incoming flight data eventually populated, but only a few hours prior to departure.  Asiana failed to populate at all.  In talking to Ryan Jones, one of Flighty’s creators, he indicated it is a data source (or lack thereof) problem.  So, probably not fixable, but a bummer nonetheless.

In addition, incoming flight data appears unreliable for Southwest.  For example, my flight to San Jose later today displays no incoming info.

But when I search FlightAware, I can trace (when I wrote this the night before) the plane all the way back to Nashville.  I’m not sure exactly what the limitation is.  But if you fly Southwest frequently, beware that the incoming flight data might not work.

No Ability to “Window Shop” Flight Info

In other words, in order to access detailed information about a flight, you must add it to your profile.  If you don’t actually plan to fly it, you then have to delete it.  This is inconvenient, especially since I sometimes use the delay forecast when deciding to book a flight.  I offered the suggestion of a “left swipe/add or view” button, so perhaps that makes it into a future release.

No Automatic Notification of Long-Range Schedule Changes (Possibly a Bug)

I often plan and book trips several months in advance.  Unfortunately, this puts me at the mercy of airline schedule changes.  As an example, we booked a Southwest flight from San Jose to Dallas next January 2nd.  Originally Flight 1942 at 2:35 pm, the airline changed the flight number to 142, and the departure time to 11:55 am.  Southwest actually tried to rebook us on a no plane change option via Burbank departing half an hour later.  But I wanted the earlier nonstop instead.  Now, I obviously don’t expect any app to know how I rebooked.  But there is a flaw in Flighty – the original, now nonexistent flight remains in your profile.

Nonexistent flight in profile

If you run a new search, you can’t select the now removed flight, though.  So the app does know the flight dropped off the schedule.

New flight schedule, same day, same city pair

I wish there was some kind of notification on the now nonexistent flight that it, well, doesn’t exist.  Maybe a “we’re sorry, but we cannot locate this flight in the schedule” type of notice?  I also offered this suggestion as part of my beta testing. so perhaps Flighty also adds this later on. (Ryan later got back to me and said this might just be a bug, as the system should catch these.)

No Android Option

As a committed iPhone user, this doesn’t affect me.  But if you prefer Android, you’re out of luck.  Flighty currently works only with Apple products.

Other Features

Including and in addition to those noted above, the Flighty app contains many other features (from the press kit):

  • Push Notifications
  • Inbound Plane Tracking
  • Refreshing Design
  • Personal Flight History – Maps by year, times around the world, miles per year
  • Real Flight Paths – you get an alert as soon as it’s filed to authorities
  • Arrival Delay Forecast
  • Connection Assistant – when you land, an alert with everything you need to make your connection
  • FAA Forced Delay Alerts – direct feed of FAA communication with pilots about forced delays by the FAA. (US only) This is actually the #2 cause of delays, making Flighty the only app that automatically monitors the top causes of delays. Source: Department of Transportation, July 2019, Page 30
  • Real aircraft models – the small plane on the map… it’s the correct model
  • Tail Number detail
  • Intelligent search for fast entry – just enter “AA100” and we parse it, and “7/10” for dates too
  • Full timetable – comprehensive schedule and estimates for every step
  • Calendar Sync – 1-way sync from Flighty to cal, not just export though, we keep the event up-to-date
  • Sharing – easily send loved ones your latest status
  • Taxi Times
  • TripIt Sync
  • Email Import
  • Timezone change
  • Baggage Claim
  • Arrival Weather
  • Check In Assistant
  • Morning-Of Assistant
  • Offline estimation
  • iCloud sync – use Flighty on all your iOS devices
  • No accounts – no email or login required, we never even know who you are
  • Privacy – Flighty retains ZERO data from TripIt, calendar, or email automations. If, and only if, our email parsing fails, we fallback to a commercial option that retains no private data but does retain non-private data but only aggregated and anonymously

Final Thoughts and the Value Proposition

Overall, I really like Flighty.  It captures many of the things I loved about Flight Track Pro, and adds some nice extras like 25-hour inbound flight tracking.  So is it worth it?  Pricing runs $8.99 a month or $49.99 a year.  Or, you can use the free version, which includes only basic flight tracking and past flight history.  That’s pretty steep, and a lot more than other products like “App in the Air”, though I find Flighty’s actual flight tracking tools more robust.

For me personally, as someone who flies in “bursts” every 3-4 months, the monthly option makes some sense.  Three times per year for $27 feels like a decent price.  I go back and forth on whether the $50 annual subscription might make sense.  The push notifications and enhanced inbound flight data really do add value.  What I really wish they had was a “lifetime” option at around that price point; I’d pay that in a heartbeat.  But regardless, if you yearn for a Flight Track Pro replacement, this is a really good one.

This article was originally published on Travel Codex. Read it at A Test Drive of the Flighty App, a New Flight Tracking Tool.