Cool Tools:

Having a white Christmas comes at the expense of many others trying to get home for the holidays. Holiday travel is required to be tumultuous that TV stations always dispatch at least one satellite truck and one low struggling TV reporter, forced to work over the holidays, to the airport to find irked travelers to interview. And there’s always snow in Chicago, causing back-ups at the world’s busiest airport that create a domino effect around the globe that you’d think the airlines would have figured out by now to add a couple hours to the flight time in winter.

If you’re a real data buff and have a lot of control issues and a lot of issues with the airline industry, is a perfect site for you. It’sĀ  a real-time air traffic site that will check for delays around the country, flight status, and even tracks security wait times for some airports. There’s airport parking information, weather, and on-time performance records of each airline for your planning purposes. If you’re a registered user, you can join the TSA- and airline- bashing sessions with other registered users on the site. And a cool interactive map showing delays around the country, kind of like a road traffic status map.

mapThe difference, however, is that unlike the road traffic map, where you can pick alternate routes or times you would drive to your destination, this flight map only serves to depress you, since you’ve already purchased your flight and don’t really control when you’d like to fly your plane out.

Here’s a video created by scientists from the Zurich School of Applied Sciences, featured on, using data from to show every flight on Earth over a 24-hour period. This is probably the best application of I’ve seen – the sun moves across the Earth and you can see all the air travel around the world.I’m not sure about the music that goes with it – maybe it’s what Swiss scientists do. Unfortunately, this video is not allowed to be embedded into this blog, so you’ll have to click here to view it. Just make sure to return to my blog afterwards.


Of course, just checking with your own airline, the weather and arriving two hours in advance during the holiday rush is usually just as reliable, since can’t really tell you much else about how to handle the wrath of other passengers, irritated airline workers and lost luggage. The news reporter, however, would probably be much happier to listen to you than the airline might, especially if texting your gripes on the “airline chatter” section of isn’t the most effective way to blow off steam.


1 Comment

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One response to “Cool Tools:

  1. grace

    That video is really cool, and it’d be cool if there was a zoom in on domestic flights or european flights. Is there? Chih was stranded (as he almost always is) trying to get home to Champaign. He waited an additional 5 hours in Newark and then stayed the night at a hotel in Chicago. I feel bad that he has to stay in Champaign while I might go swimming in Sue and Danny’s heated pool. Have a safe trip guys!!

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