This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Have you ever wondered where that plane you’re sitting on has just come from? Or where it’s going after it drops you off? Here’s how you can use free software to dig up a ton of information on your metal bird.

If you’ve ever had a serious delay while flying, you probably know that it’s not unusual for flight tracking apps to give you up-to-date information on the status of your flight — but not for the airline or the actual plane. FlightRadar24 is a simple tool that lets you log on and search for whatever airline and flight number you’re looking for. Every plane is assigned a unique tail number, much like the serial number on your phone, that can easily identify it, and all planes registered in the United States have tail numbers that begin with the letter “N.”

I decided to test it out. A quick search on FlightRadar24 pulled up the tail number of the American Airlines 767 that caught fire last fall: N345AN.

A quick search of flightradar24 pulls up the tail number of the American Airlines 767 that caught on fire the other week

You’ll get free results for flights in the past seven days. If you want to go back further, you’ll need to sign up for its free trial membership. Once you find the tail number, you can take it and search for it directly on FlightAware.com to get even more detailed history that goes back about two weeks. If you want more information at that point, you’ll need to sign up for its free trial.

If you choose a specific flight, FlightAware will even give you minute-by-minute reports on the plane’s altitude, heading, latitude and longitude.

Latitude, longitude, speed, direction, altitude... what more could you ask for?

Unfortunately, it can be a little tedious trying to get the complete picture of a plane’s past, as it requires you to sign up for a free trial from one of these platforms. But once you do, or if you’re interested in a flight that occurred within the last two weeks, you can find just about every detail about the flight that you’d ever want to know.

What are some of your favorite #AvGeek sites and apps? Sound off, below.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.