Why doesn't FlightAware report canceled flights?


#1

I was scheduled on Icelandair flight FI541 on June 17th of this year, and a couple days before it took off I received a vague text from them saying they had “announced changes to my flight” and I should “please contact the sales office for assistance”. I tried calling them, but after 20 minutes on hold (and paying international calling rates, as I was on vacation overseas) I fell back to Googling the flight number.

That brought me to this site, which reported my flight was still scheduled. I assumed they had bumped the time forward or backwards 5-10 minutes. In fact, they had cancelled the flight completely, which I only found out about at the Paris airport. By that time it was far too late to find another flight to Iceland, and I had to cut my vacation short.

Even the morning of the 17th, FlightAware continued to report the flight was scheduled and due to take off. Why doesn’t FlightAware have accurate data?


#2

Because FlightAware is NOT a substitute for contacting the airline! You should read the FAQ’s (under “About FlightAware” to the left on every page) to find out where the data come from.


#3

All that I can find on that page says the data is at most delayed by five minutes, and that it refreshes 1-4 times a minute. That doesn’t explain why a flight that was canceled continued to show up as on time until its scheduled departure time.


#4

Where is this data from? (Back to top)

FlightAware compiles, aggregates, and processes data from over 45 government sources (in Europe, North America, and Oceania), dozens of airlines, commercial data providers, as well as hundreds of receivers in FlightAware’s ADS-B flight tracking network. FlightAware’s proprietary algorithms calculate delay and arrival time estimates to offer the most up-to-date and reliable flight tracking data on the Internet.

Not all worldwide data sources (e.g., most European data) or satellite/VDL data are freely available on FlightAware.com due to government regulations or commercial agreements. You can contact us if you have a commercial need for worldwide data.


#5

I think what the guy is confused about is Flightaware handles flight plan data, and most scheduled flight plan data for scheduled airlines is “canned”. The airlines don’t micromanage flight plan data they send to air traffic services: if a flight is cancelled, they don’t go out and pull the flight plan. It just goes away for that day, and the next day some impersonal computer sends another out. No matter what the status of the flight.

Simply put, Flightaware is not an airline service. It is just a conglomeration of dozens of flight plan and air traffic services from around the world. I can’t imagine Flightaware ( or any company) to keep up to date on the thousands of issues that individual airlines have on a day to day basis.

Sorry to hear about the rotten day at the airport, though.


#6

That isn’t clear at all. And this is the first hit you get if you Google that flight number.

Is there any way to indicate when the scheduled flight information was last updated, or some other information that the data isn’t reliable and shouldn’t be trusted? There’s no indication whatsoever in the FAQ that upcoming flights aren’t operating under the same rules as currently ongoing flights. I can’t be the only person this has screwed up.


#7

Sorry about your flight.
What the other guys are trying to say is flight cancellations may, or may not, make it to flight aware. This is because this site, and others like it, use data from ATC computers not from the airlines public website. Quite often the individual airlines flight planning computers still calculate and file flight plans even for flights cancelled for one day unless there is an exceptional need for them to go in manually and remove that flight from the ATC system for that day.
Right now we are seeing that need at SFO due to runway closures. If all the cancelled flights were left in the system the FAAs planning programs would not get a realistic picture of the flights scheduled to operate and would start to issue delays for flights coming from the east coast even though a lot of short haul regional flights have been cancelled. For instance from my home town I can see that two of five flights do not appear today, so the ATC planning computer has a more realistic picture of what is happening today and can issue delays accordingly.


#8

If you look at the flight again you will see under the map the following: At least part of this flight occurs outside of FlightAware’s primary service area. Learn more about FlightAware’s coverage.

Don’t know about you but to me this would mean that the data may not be reliable. The portion Learn more about FlightAware’s coverage is clickable and takes you to additional information.


#9

My advice would have been,. check your Airport site Departure Board,. and if it wasnt on there,. then check your carrier(Airline)

AS this is an Aircraft Simulated Tracking site,. and has nothing to do with the Carriers… :astonished:


#10

Why even check the departure board? When I’m checking on a specific airline flight my first thought is to go to the source and check the airline’s web site, not a third party site such as the airport’s departure board or FlightAware.