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If we were discussing this dilemma about 10 years or so ago, it’s best, to be honest, we would have been pretty stumped as well. But now, times have changed, and we thankfully live in an era that allows us the confidence to say that we can get hold of almost any data out there, provided that it has been stored somewhere.
So if you seek to identify certain information regarding a flight from the past, there are many ways to go about it. Depending on what kind of information you are looking for, various resources can help you find what you need.
If you are looking for information regarding the arrival and departure times of a particular flight, it is pretty straightforward to locate this information. But you need to consider a few things:
Date of Journey
This is a very important thing to consider before you go digging for the data and many reasons. Depending on exactly how old the journey was, a lot of information can change. Given the ongoing pandemic, the following might not be a hard and fast rule because flights all around have been irregularly irregular on account of multiple cancellations and rescheduling.
Flights From Less Than a Year Ago
Usually, it is very easy to discover the departure and arrival times of flights from just months ago because it is most likely that it has remained constant over the past few months. If you were to visit the website of the flight or simply Google flight timings for the particular flight, you would see the current day information, which might just be the same as it was a few months ago.
However, there is no guarantee that the flight timings have not changed since then. And of course, there is always the possibility that that particular flight was rescheduled or delayed due to some reason. This might be a good idea to get an estimate of the flight timing, but it is not accurate.
Flights from Years Ago
Different websites can help you uncover this information and provide you with accurate details regarding the takeoff and arrival times of different flights over the past years. One such website is FlightStats that has a whole section dedicated to providing you information, particularly on Historical Flight Statuses.
Accessing this website will also give you information regarding current flights and related updates, keeping you abreast of any delays and current conditions. Another one that we will explore is FlightAware which also has similar features.
FlightStats’ Historical Flight Statuses
This feature is excellent and has information dating way back to possibly even a decade, and the information can be considered to be accurate and reliable. This site derives its data from the FAA, and hence you don’t need to be wary or doubtful. The user interface is pretty advanced, and you will have an easy time discovering the information that you want if you choose to go with this.
However, there is a slight catch. You will need to create an account and avail a subscription that will cost you about $25 per month. So it just comes down to how badly you need this information. The upside of availing of the subscription is that you will have access to many premium features of the website, and this can come in handy if you are a frequent flyer (pandemic aside). All in all, it is not that bad a deal. But there are alternatives.
With a professional account, you can look up 250 historical flight statuses per month.
How to Use FlightStats
Open the FlightStats website and create an account for yourself. Subscribe to the Professional Substitution. The feature for accessing historical flight data is only available to those who have a professional subscription. You can avail of the subscription by paying the amount after which you will be able to log in to your premium account. Alternatively, you can click Subscribe here.
In order to be able to use the tool, you have to log into your account and click on Flight Status from the menu on top ‘Flights’. Once you have done that, you will be able to view information for historical flights up to 2006.
The more information you already have, the easier it is for you to derive the information that you need. The simplest way to use the tool to discover historical flight data would be to select your airline, enter the flight number and select the date of departure and hit search.
If you do not have information regarding your flight number, skip to step six and come back to step four.
If your flight had multiple stops on that day that you selected, you will be able to see all the stops and select the one segment of the flight that you want more details for.
Once you have selected this, you will be able to view detailed information regarding the segment that you have chosen including Flight Gate Times, Runway Times, Gate Information, Scheduled Flight Timings, etc for both Arrival and Departure. There is also a detailed event timeline that will give you an idea about why the delay occurred if there was any.
If you do not have your flight number, you can alternatively choose to enter other details that will help track down your flight. This includes Arrival Airport, Departure Airport, Airline and Date so that you can see all the flights that travelled between the two airports on that particular date.
FlightAware’s Historical Flight Data
This is a slightly more expensive option, and well, it pretty much provides you with the same information as FlightStats would but at a more expensive rate and, well, not all that much information. But this is a pretty good option if you are looking to avail yourself of information from the past three months because you can get this information, including Past Flight Activity and Aircraft Statistics, for free with an unpaid subscription.
If you are just looking to quickly check on flight information regarding the Departure or Arrival from last month, this is probably your best option. Create a free account, and if you feel like you need to upgrade your subscription, you can always choose to do so easily enough.
How to use FlightAware
Create a free account with FlightAware if you require only information for the past few months (up-to 3 months). For information dating older than that, avail a premium subscription and you’ll have access to information dating to much earlier.
You will need to subscribe to the Enterprise subscription level in order to be able to view information dating back up to 8 months.
You will now be able to access the feature and procure the information that you seek by supplying sufficient information that you might have.
Alternatively, you can also select an airport and buy the historical data for the airport from the website.
This information is brought to you directly from the official website of the United States Department of Transport and is possibly the closest thing you’ll find to official information regarding historical flights. This website has excellent and detailed filters that will help you locate the exact flight that you have in mind.
You can select whether you wish to discover the scheduled departure and arrival times or the actual departure and arrival times. Furthermore, you can also get detailed timings of elapse, taxi-out, wheels-off, etc., which goes to tell you that you’re not going to find more detailed information elsewhere.
Every airport within the USA has been listed out for you to select from so that you can filter out the Origin airport as you look for detailed information. You can also select the airline that the flight was a part of, narrowing your search further.
Now here comes the best part, and you can say that I have saved the best for the last. As of the time that this post was created, you can find information on flights back to 1987. If you have all the information that you need, including the exact date of travel, look no further. And the best part? You can avail of this information free of cost.
There is one limitation, however. This site can only be used to access the information regarding arrival and departure timings of flights that took flight from an airport within the United States of America. The Origin airport has to be present in the drop-down for you to access this information. Also, you will have to remember the precise date of travel.
How to use TranStats.BTS.gov
Visit this link to obtain data dating all the way back to 1995. As you scroll down on this page, you will see a section providing you Detailed Statistics on Departures, Arrivals and other things. Click on Departures or Arrivals as needed.
On this page, under Statistics, select All Statistics or choose which exact information you need: Scheduled Departure/Arrival Time, Actual Departure/Arrival Time, etc. Also select the Origin/Destination Airport and the name of the Airline.
You don’t need to remember your flight number but you will need to remember the exact date of your travel including the day, month and year. If you have the information that you need, you will be able to easily access the arrival and departure time of the flight.
Discovering Your Personal Flight History
This is much easier than discovering details of the flight that you did not personally travel by. This is because, when you have planned out your travel, there are plenty of shreds of evidence and records in your possession that you probably have overlooked that can give you all the information that you need. And this is even more helpful in combination with the above websites because it will make it easier for you to enter the information required to get the flight departure and arrival timings.
Among the different pieces of evidence that you can find around you are:
Your old boarding pass
A previous boarding pass will have all the information that you need, including your seat number as well as the scheduled departure and arrival timings. You might not have a soft copy with you, but the digital copy can be found through your old emails or screenshots or in your digital wallet. Keep in mind that you might not always find the year of travel; this is something that you will have to remember by yourself or use other sources to discover.
Flight Confirmation Emails/Travel Agent Account History
You could browse through your old emails because there, you would have received the confirmation email for your flight booking if you had used your email ID for booking the tickets. Alternatively, if you have used an online booking agent to book your flight, you can check your order history to get hold of the departure and arrival timings.
Now, if you are looking for supplementary information that could lead you to a piece of more detailed information, e.g., you need the date of travel or the flight number to proceed with checking the online databases, then you can refer to the following sources, and you will get the information:
- Old Credit Card Statements or Bank Statements
- Passport Stamps
- Old diaries or travel planners
- Ask your family/friends to see if they remember
- Old Photographs/Videos
None of these are extremely reliable sources of information, but they can help you get started on discovering more solid details regarding the flight that you took all those months or years ago.
You can try calling up the airport directly, but there is no guarantee that this will yield any information because of the privacy rights of your co-passengers. The airport or the airline will not be able to provide you with many details depending on the regulations that are currently on hold in your region regarding this. Perhaps they can help you out if you can provide them with more details that reassure them that you do not intend to misuse the information that you obtain.
Discovering the arrival and departure times of a historical flight is not all that difficult, and you just need to know where to look. For more search information and interesting queries on flights, keep checking out the latest posts here!
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