More informative airport names?


Would it be possible to revise your database so that the airport names that appear on the flight alerts / flight tracker are more informative? I imagine that very few people recognize the official names of airports around the world. It would be much more helpful if you used the primary city and state/country for the airport instead of it’s officially recognized name.

For example, imagine tracking a flight from Malcolm McKinnon airport to Owen Roberts International Airport. I will award 5 internets to the first person that can tell me where those two airports are using only the knowledge in their head.

This is a problem with FlightAware (in my opinion). When it shows the airport name in the email alerts and on the flight tracking page, it lists the formal name, which is often not useful in determining the airport location. The 4-letter airport identifiers often don’t help much either for the many people that are not pilots.

So in the example above, here is what FlightAware would show on the tracking page and email alerts:

N123AB has arrived at SSI (Malcolm McKinnon) from MWCR (Owen Roberts International)

Not easy to figure out location without going to another source and looking up the airport codes.

Try this instead:

N123AB has arrived at SSI (St Simon’s Island, GA) from MWCR (Georgetown, Cayman Islands)

Much more useful (in my opinion). Now anybody tracking a flight can easily see exactly what city a flight went to.


Malcolm McKinnon is St Simmon’s Island and Owen Roberts International is Cayman Island.

You gave both - do I get 2.5 Internets for already knowing the Owen Roberts International is on Cayman Island?

I think you don’t give enough people credit. Many, if not most, pilots here would know the official name of the airport they are going to. Many of the enthusiasts here also know them.

What about cities with multiple airports. Seattle has BFI and SEA; LAX has WHI and LAX; New York City has JFK and LGA.

What about joint use fields? BLV is a joint use airport. Should the alert show Belleville, IL, or Scott Air Force Base?

What about airports that serve multiple cities? TRI serves three cities. Should the alert say “Bristol/Johnson/Kingsport?”

I like the alerts showing the name of the airport. If I’m not familiar with the name then I can either look at the code to figure it out or look it up.

I think the method used now is correct. I don’t want to know that a flight departed Los Angeles; I want to know that it departed Whiteman (WHI)

May, if space permits, it could be something like WHI (Whiteman, Los Angeles, CA).

If it came down to showing either the airport name or associated city, I’d go with the city.


2.5 internets on the way to you.

I do give pilots and aviation enthusiasts a lot of credit. However, I’m writing specifically for the many people out there that are simply family members or acquaintences of pilots, and they are tracking their spouse, child, mommy, or daddy who is flying that plane. Information just needs to be more complete. FlightAware’s reach has expanded well beyond it’s pilot/aviation enthusiast niche.

My solution still works perfectly fine for cities with multiple airports, simply because the airport identifier is also included. Heck, keep the formal names in there and just add the city/state/country info to it. It can’t be that hard.

I know FlightAware must be referencing a city/state/country database somewhere, because that information does appear when you click on the airport ID to get the airport info. So just make it so the email alerts/flight tracker page also reference that database.

Go over to and type an airport ID into their website. Look how it displays the airport info. That, to me, is ideal. Airport code, formal name, and city/state all in one place.

KSSI Malcolm Mc Kinnon Airport
Brunswick, Georgia, USA

I’m happy to just refer people over to another website. But I’m sure FlightAware would much rather keep them here.


They can get the same information by entering the code on FlightAware’s home page (lower left side of the screen).

By the way, have you checked Airnav for SSI?
KSSI Malcolm Mc Kinnon Airport
Brunswick, Georgia, USA

FlightAware shows the same city.

Both sites get the airport data from the FAA. The FAA says the airport is in Brunswick, not St Simmons Island

So, perhaps I should add another question: Do you show the city that locals associate with the airport or the city that the FAA says the airport is associated with? A good example is SSI as shown above.


This would be my vote…

My sisters don’t care about airport names or identifiers when I fly GA, they wanted to know where I landed (or going to land) when I took my long cross countries from MS to OH or MD.

Baltimore MD has multiple airports. Needless to say, if I am travelling up there, they will know what airport to pick me up so even with the three public airports I can choose land at.

Like you said, Flight Aware reaches folks that just don’t care about the inner workings of aviation, they want to know where I am going (I.E my sisters).

RW812 apparently fails to realize apparently the text messages received do not have clickable links on all phones, especially phones that are “non smart” like my Verizon phone.

So why not include user friendly information from the get go such as city and state from get go without having to go to another website or even link within Flight Aware?

I can’t say with conviction, but I think this came up in the past and the staff said there was a formatting (or character limitation) problem? Too lazy this fine Tuesday morning to do a search.


No, I don’t fail to realize that text received do not have click-able links. I was thinking the person could enter the code into FlightAware on a computer.

Again, what airport city do you use? In this case, the original poster is saying SSI is St Simons Island. But the FAA - and, by extension, FlightAware, AirNav, etc., - say SSI is Brunswick.

If the alert went to someone at the destination airport then that someone would probably know the name of the airport already.

If you are traveling to Baltimore but NOT on a commercial flight, the airport name becomes important because you could be landing at any of the three airports.


Not likely that the airport name to a non aviation person is important.

Part of preflight is arranging ground transportation. All my sister wants is road directions to the airport to pick me up. Their confirmation that they are at the airport is seeing pretty little planes based on ground directions provided (if they haven’t looked it up themselves) :wink:

In the case of diversion (if an alert is even delivered) to a different local airport in Baltimore then intended destination, it won’t matter anyway. It would be kinda too late for them to get the text in a timely manner due to the 6 minute lag time.

But at least they know I am in Baltimore rather then Westminster.


Uhgggg where is common sense??? Guess you forgot where the alert was delivered to?

If I was at a computer, I would put the tail number in, not the airport code. :unamused:


The question boils down to what city the airport is in so don’t go rolling your eyes at me, you whippersnapper. The alert has the flight ID. It has the route. You just want to find out where the airport is. So, you can enter the airport code to determine the airport’s location.

Many people who have text receiving ability also have the ability to access the Internet through the same phone. So, they could also enter the name of the airport as shown in the flight alert into a search engine on the Internet through the phone and find the airport location.

The way I see it there are three options that could be done for the alerts. In order of MY preference (so don’t go knocking it - it is my OPINION).

  1. keep things the way they are - airport code/airport name
  2. airport code/airport name, city
    10.* airport code/city name

*Yes, #10 out of 3. Showing the airport code and the city name is so unproductive that it is very low. To restate my reason.

  1. If the alert is received by a local at the destination then there’s a 99% probability he/she/it already knows the name of the airport

  2. Giving just the city name doesn’t take into account cities with multiple airports. No problem if you’re traveling commercial but if you’re flying GA then the receiver doesn’t know the particular airport.

  3. FlightAware would use the name of the associated city as given by the FAA, not what people think it is. A good example is what the original poster said. He said he would like to see something like SSI/St Simons Island. Only problem is is that St Simons Island is not the city associated with SSI. That city is Brunswick.


What part of preflight planning did you not read? The people that really need to know will know what airport to pick me up with or without an alert.

The people that are casually tracking, good chance they are at a computer to do what you say and probably don’t even need the alert other then to say hey, I wonder where 1943L is headed (back in the day) when they received the alert. Go to the tail number, and viola, you have all you need for airport name.

Why not put up on the alert user friendly information to prevent a second query?

My sister has no care in the world what the FAA database reflects, has no care in the world that BWI is named Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. They just want to know I am coming to Baltimore, not Westminster or Frederick. Location of airport already discussed (refer to preflight planning)

Oh by the way, text messaging is different then internet access in most cases. Not everybody has internet access on their cell phone.

Check your cell phone bill if you don’t believe me… DUH :unamused:


Internet is accessible on most cell phones. With AT&T, all of the phones offered can access the Internet.

Yes, :unamused: I know there is a difference between text messaging and Internet access. I’m not an easterner after all! (*disclaimer)

There are two ways of paying for the Internet: with a data plan (“all you can eat”) or so many cents per megabyte used (“a la carte”).

When I was looking for a phone for my girlfriend, all of the phones allowed for Internet access.

Your mileage may vary with other cell phone carriers.

And, if you would read my postings carefully, I am not totally against more “user friendly” alerts. I am against just the name of the city being shown. The airport NAME should be shown also.

Yes, I know that the casual user is only interested in the city name. But, as you keep overlooking, what if the person is flying into a city with multiple airport and is flying a GA aircraft? What if the person receives only the alert, not any “preflight planning”?

*Disclaimer: For the humor impaired and those easily offended: That is not meant to be a slur on anyone born east of the Mississippi River. Some of my best friends were born on the wrong, er, other side of the Mississippi. I cannot help it that the western part of the USA is better than the eastern part. It’s just the law of nature - the higher the mountains and the colder the ocean, the better the country. So if you are offended or that line went a dozen feet (or more) above your head, just take a few grains of salt and toss it over your shoulder as you later, rinse, and repeat.


For the person who needs to know, this NEVER happened in 10 years of my GA flying errr Dami… :blush: (deja vue moment)

For the casual trackers NOT meeting me at the airport, I already addressed this.


It’s a tough balance between being useful for flights to multi-airport cities and being useful to flights to airports users are unfamiliar with. For now we’re going to stick with names instead of cities.