Is your flight late? Not so long ago, there was only one place you could get an answer to that question: from your airline. But several new websites can also help you find out what's happening to your flight, offering a more precise idea of what to expect when you arrive at the airport.
For example, Flightstats.com offers detailed information on flights, including departure time, global positioning system location, and estimated arrival times. It even rates flights according to on-time numbers (for instance, American Airlines Flight 123 from Dallas to Honolulu gets 3.7 stars out of 5 and is considered 88 percent "on time"). Another site, Flightaware.com, adds even more detail, telling you that AA 123 is flying at 445 knots and 35,000 feet and will touch down at 11:57 a.m. instead of the scheduled 11:40 arrival time.
And the Federal Aviation Administration (fly.faa.gov) gives you a bird's-eye view of every U.S. airport, showing you flight delays. The green dots on the map mean there are no major delays, a red dot means delays of 45 minutes or more, and a black dot means the airport is closed. On a recent afternoon, the dots over Dallas and Honolulu were green. Savvy air travelers have begun using these sites in conjunction with information provided by their airline, checking their projected arrival and departure information against these independent sites.
Don't have a laptop? A service called Flyte-Source-Mobile (www.flytecomm.com) lets you use your cellphone or personal digital assistant to look up flight information. The $3.99-a-month service, which is available through Sprint and AT&T phones, allows you to check real-time flight status, look for alternate flights, or see reports for an airport. (You can also get much of the same information free on the company's flight-tracking widget for the Apple operating system.)