We were initially interested in this app not because we needed to know when a friend would be landing in Beijing, but because we have spent many a lingering moment in front of Departures boards in Miami International Airport, dreaming about what it would be like to jump on a flight to some exotic country at the last minute.
Have you ever waited for a train in Paris? The boards announce departures to Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid … all these exciting places to visit. It’s hard to resist the temptation to just buy a ticket and travel where ‘ere the wind takes you.
The FlightBoard app interested us both as a travel tool and as a way of seeing all the flights heading to fascinating destinations throughout the world.
How it works
You download it, and it asks if it can use your present location so it can bring up information for your closest airport. Allow it to do so, and it will list flights in your vicinity. You will also see an “Airports” button at the top left where you can put in an airport, city, country, or code. Once you’ve chosen an airport, it will load all the upcoming departures. Touch the “Departures” button in the top right, and it changes to “Arrivals”.
The design is based on the flight board at Charles de Gaulle Airport to give it an old-school look, and clearly displays the flight and number, destination (or origin if you’re in the arrivals listing), gate, time of departure (or arrival) and the status of each flight.
The heading of each of these columns can be tapped to sort that column’s information into ascending or descending order, and if you want to look at a particular flight more closely, just tap it and it will give you further details, including the type of aircraft flying. It will also allow you to forward this information via email, post it to Facebook, or open it in FlightTrack, a live flight status tracker app that costs extra but obviously is a great accompaniment to FlightBoard.
The information updates constantly, gives you the airport’s local time, and tells you what time window it’s displaying as obviously some huge airports can’t list all flights for the next 24 hours.
When we tried it
We allowed it to use our location and hey-ho, up popped Owen Roberts International Airport. We immediately saw that the last flights in from Miami and Jamaica were delayed by two hours. Interesting … After that we began to go a bit hog wild with international airports. We first stopped by MIA followed by YYZ, SYD, LAX and HNL. Then we were in NBO looking at departures to Entebbe, Juba, Zanzibar and Istanbul.
PVG had flights coming in from Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Paris and Moscow, while NAN had departures to Savusavu, Taveuni and Nuku’alofa.
Just in case you’re wondering what airports we’re talking about, all you have to do is download the app, punch in their codes and you’ll see!
No matter where we could think of, FlightBoard found an airport nearby with planes aplenty getting ready to head down the runway. It was a fascinating exercise; one that quickly enthralled a friend’s child who wanted to guess what airport we were looking at based on the flights going in and out of it. We soon saw how this could be a fun educational tool as well, what with time differences and such. Maybe a way of getting wee Johnny to figure out what the time was in London when the plane departed from New York. Beyond, however, the advantage of learning the airport code of Tokyo or Reykjavik so we could win the next pub quiz, we simply loved looking at flights heading to places we had never visited, giving us ideas of where we could take our next vacation.
FlightBoard would be a very useful app for the worldwide business or pleasure traveller with its up-to-the-minute data showing the status on upcoming flights and any relevant delays. It might even save the day if a flight is delayed and the user can look up an alternative option. But even if you have your feet firmly on the ground for most of the time, it’s just fun to stay abreast of what’s going on in the skies around the globe. Kids seem to love it, too.
Devices: iOS and Android
Rating: E for Everyone
No matter where we could think of, FlightBoard found an airport nearby with planes aplenty getting ready to head down the runway.