More Affordable Blocked Tail Number Tracking Option


First off, I love FlightAware and it’s become my primary provider of flight tracking information.

I’ve recently implemented a block on our aircraft for a variety of reasons, but would still like to be able to view it myself. I know that FlightAware has an option available for this purpose at a cost of $720/year plus a $250 initial fee. I fully realize you’re a business and need a revenue model to maintain the great service you provide, but also feel this amount is cost prohibitive for many such as myself. Instead of getting this higher rate from a small minority, wouldn’t it be better to get a reduced amount of revenue from a whole lot of people? It also would make your business less susceptible to the negative economic effects when numerous large corporations start selling off their fleets (as we’ve seen recently after the auto exec debacle).

I make this suggestion because it seems like there are other providers who show this blocked data to the registered aircraft owner for free (with proof of registration), and allow them to share it with designated third parties for a small fee ($14.95/month). Spending $179/year for such a service is reasonable for a small, private operator such as myself. When I look at FlightAware’s similar offering at $970 for the first year alone it makes me cringe. That may be peanuts to a large corporation, but is significant for us little guys flying pistons.

Has there ever been thought or consideration in your pricing structure of offering a more affordable option for blocking tail number tracking? Perhaps it could be based upon aircraft type - for instance, small pistons would be $xxx dollars, small, med, and large jets at higher tiers - similar to how ramp charges and landing fees are levied at airports. Imagine flying a 152 into an airport once per month and having the same ramp charges as a G5 who sits on the ramp 10 times a month. I realize this is an apples or oranges comparison, but it’s the best example I could come up with to highlight what I’m proposing as far as a why there should be a tiered pricing structure. To further highlight this, NBAA, the organization who oversees the BARR program, charges different membership rates for pistons and for turbine aircraft.

Again, I love your service and would love to continue using it once my tail number goes to the blocked status this upcoming month, but really hope that you’ll consider a more affordable option to make that viable.

Thanks for your time in listening to my suggestion!


It probably - no, it does - cost as much to block a C152 as it does a B737. If you can’t afford to pay the fee, then why not unblock your aircraft? Why do you need it blocked?


I agree that it likely costs the same to block a C152 as a B737 - I’m guessing the B737 does quite a bit more flights (and thereby has more tracking requests) than say a personally owned C152. My aircraft size is somewhere in-between those two so I would expect to pay more than a C152 - my tracking usage would also be higher.

There are a variety of reasons that it’s in an operators best interest to block their tail number. For instance in my business, I’d prefer that my competitors not be able to view every move that I make going to various conferences and customer meetings.

And yes, I an afford to pay the fee, but that’s not the point. I could afford to write a check for a $100,000 today for an ice cream cone if I wanted to, but I wouldn’t do it (silly example, but true). It’s not about being able to afford it versus not being able to afford it - it’s a matter of the level of value received versus competitive options available. I like to shop at Lowes, but I’m not going to spend $970 to buy something there when Home Depot has a similar offering for $179 (or free).

Additionally, I’m also not advocating that FlightAware go down to the $179/year fee. I think you’ve got a premium offering and should be compensated for that. I know I am certainly willing to pay more to stick with FlightAware rather than jumping ship and using an alternate provider. The financial gap in cost is currently too big for a prudent business person to ignore however.


Only thing is that even if you jumped ship and and started using an alternate cheaper provider for a service blocking your tail number, your problem would still exist.

Your flight would remained unblocked in Flight Aware. :wink:

Unless of course I am missing something???


If a flight is blocked, it should be blocked by all flight tracking services.

What the original poster is saying is that he would rather not go to another flight tracker to follow his aircraft because FlightAware is such a great provider. However, from a business point of view, it would be prudent to use another flight tracker that has a lower cost of unblocking flights for individuals.

Unless bppilot wants to track only his aircraft, how about a compromise? Track your aircraft on another flight tracker that has a lower cost and do all of your other flight tracking here on FlightAware?


Thanks for your note on this. Actually, I’ve blocked my aircraft via the NBAA BARR program at the ASDI level. That means that every flight tracking vendor (FlightAware, FBOweb, FltPlan, etc.) is required to block the tail number from public view. There’s no charge to have a tail number blocked.

In order to be able to view it on any of the flight tracking services, you have to provide a letter and registration to the service provider asking for an unblock for your individual account to be able to view it. Some services charge a smaller amount for this service ($179/year as mentioned above) and others charge substantially more ($720/year + $250 processing fee).

My point of this message was to illustrate to the FlightAware staff that by creating a more affordable option (not necessarily as inexpensive as competitors though), they would likely have more customers who actually purchase their service to view a blocked tail number. In my case, they are currently receiving $0 from me since I don’t subscribe. Say the fee was $200/year - they’d get that money from me (and likely from many others) which would be more reasonable for occasional tracking use. When I look at spending almost $1,000 on FlightAware vs $179 for a similar (albeit not as ascetically pleasing) service, it’s simply not going to happen. At a lower price point, I would gladly pay for use of the site.

My rant is not a criticism of FlightAware, nor it’s business model. I respect that you have a business and need to generate revenue. This is simply meant as a suggestion for possibly improving your revenue stream - which I feel would happen if you changed your pricing model. Of course only FlightAware knows the economics behind such a move and perhaps they’ve already explored the possibility and decided against it. I can certainly respect that and appreciate the free services they provide to all of us.


Dami, Your right… I read it backwards on the commercial services…

Not Yet Blocked
If you subscribe to this service for aircraft that are not already blocked, FlightAware will block that aircraft to any FlightAware user not listed on your application.

Original post did say he blocked his flight which would be blocked by all flight trackers.


Oh I agree with you. :slight_smile:

I misread the original post not thinking it through.

Cheaper is better and something as you said above is better then nothing.

No different then the airlines. If I go from point A to point B and the service is the same insofar as times, I will select the cheapest flight to accomplish my mission.

Of course one would think the airlines would rather fill a seat with a discounted paying standby passenger then an empty seat, but that’s a thread all on its own.


bppilot: We’re considering your suggestion and we’ll advise you of our decision.

Wait wait wait… did Allen just agree with David? And he used the wrong “you’re” without being jumped on within 9 minutes?

This forum may just be civil after all.



Great, next TimCoble will be agreeing with Dami…oh wait, that’s me…



Well, I paid Damiross a compliment and the earth continued to turn on its axis and the stars didn’t fall from the firmament.

Guess he’s not the Devil incarnate after all…


Actually, between JHEM, Allen, and TC all agreeing with David is causing headaches with the contractor working on my house because of the cold!


Stopwatch was ticking Pike

What took you so long to get your smart @ss remark in??? :stuck_out_tongue:

I think “tink da coooold” slowing you down? Age? Satine? (oops, that’s for Wazzu) Fess up


I’ve actually had to work lately…


Has FlightAware responded to this suggestion? I am in exactly the same boat. I love this website, and would be so happy if I could keep using it, and sending my friends, family and coworkers to FlightAware to track my airplane and others. However, for business reasons, it has become important to block my tail #. I cannot justify paying $1000 / year for friends, family and coworkers to track my airplane when I can do the same for $180.


Unfortunately they haven’t responded so I guess they decided they’d rather have $0 from guys like you and I rather than the $180/year I’m now spending with their competitor FBOweb.

If you sign up at FBOweb, you’ll see they’ve got a site that allows you to give tracking visibility to friends of business associates on a per-flight basis which is really nice so you don’t need to give full access to all of your flights and history. I also like the fact that FBO is a class 1 and 2 data provider which means no 5 minute delays in the data unlike FlightAware.

I’m still a big fan of FlightAware and love the site, but I can’t justify spending 5X the amount for the same data (which actually could be considered interior due to the time delays). I hope that at some point in the future they’ll revisit this idea - in the meantime their competitor will gain traction by earning revenue from people like myself.


Sorry I forgot to reply in the thread; we did review the idea and decided not to change our published pricing.

Are they redistributing realtime data to users who have not undergone an audit by an external auditor?


I will be very, very surprised if you receive an answer to that question Mark.

At least not publicly.


Thanks for taking the time to post a response to this. I obviously disagree with your decision, but I respect that it’s your business and you can certainly operate it in a manner you see works best for your operation. You’ve got my e-mail so if you ever change your mind on this, let me know and I’ll take another look at signing up with you as well as spreading the word to others I know who have the same complaint about the cost structure.

We did undergo additional scrutiny including signing a separate legal document in order to obtain the real time data feed. Note the real time data feed is only for our aircraft that we own and we do not have access to real-time data for third party aircraft which I’m assuming would require an even more in-depth audit.


I’m in the same boat as well. $720/aircraft ident is highway robbery, especially when competitors charge $0 for the same service. Plus a couple $250 “fees” to boost the already outrageous price. Additionally it’s been over a year and the iphone app you put out was one of the worst I’ve seen. I expected so much more.