Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
There are a lot of uncertainties in the air travel industry. Never mind the ruckus surrounding Covid-19 — delays, cancellations, reroutings, runway difficulties, unexpected holding patterns, etc. are positively commonplace. If it hasn’t happened to you, it will. And you often can’t communicate the issue to others until you’ve landed.
To all prudent travelers, nail-biting parents staring bleakly at the clock, and nervous friends idling at airport pickup for a prosecutable amount of time: There are several easy methods to check the flight status of any American Airlines flight. By using the below tricks, you’ll be more informed than the vast majority of fellow passengers. You’ll be ahead of the herd when flights need rebooking, or when gates change at the last minute.
Remember to use any of the best travel insurance credit cards in the event that your plans do change unexpectedly. You can read my post on how easy it was for me to file a Chase Trip Delay claim and receive full reimbursement just by using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for my travel.
Using the American Airlines flight tracker
First, click the “Flight status” tab on the home page. This will give you the option to locate a flight by entering an origin and destination airport, along with the flight date. You can only begin tracking a couple of days before departure, as there’s no reason to track a flight any earlier. American will display all flights meeting your criteria, and you can sift through the list to find the particular flight you want.
Or, you can search by flight number, which is much easier. Enter the number and the date, and it’ll pull your flight right up. You don’t need to set-up an American Airlines account or anything.
On the following page will indicate if your flight is in the air, if it’s on time, if it’s delayed or if it’s canceled. This sample flight is estimated to arrive at 1:23 p.m., while its scheduled time is 1:52 p.m. It’s quite a bit ahead of schedule.
Also, notice the “track flight” and “Get alerts for this flight” links to the right of the page. This is where it gets cool.
If you’re on desktop, “Track flight” gives you the actual map location of the plane. You can see in real terms how far the flight is from its destination. Unnecessary, but fun.
“Get alerts for this flight” is more practical. You can input an email address and/or phone number to be sent notification messages to alert you to what’s happening. You’ll get messages even if nothing is going awry, such as takeoff and landing alerts.
The only issue is that American Airlines can sometimes be a little slow to update these services. They will provide accurate information, but you could wait an insulting amount of time before the site reflects the canceled flight announced long ago from the gate agent.
Secrets to tracking your flight
FlightAware offers the same helpful alerts to delays, cancellations, and gate changes that AA offers. If you see your flight is delayed, you can spend more time outside the airport before you walk into a gate full of irate passengers.
The app also shows you the status of the inbound aircraft (the airplane flying to your airport to give you a ride). If you’re in Cincinnati getting ready to board, for example, and your plane is in Atlanta, that’s bad. Airlines can swap equipment and put you on a different plane — so you can’t always predict the length of delay with this method (always cross-check with the airline), but it can give you an idea of what you’re dealing with.
FlightRadar24 is neater than FlightAware, though allegedly offers less comprehensive coverage. This service allows you to zoom in anywhere on earth and see planes flying in real-time. You can even watch planes still on the ground.
These sites/apps give you far more information than AA, including altitude and speed. If you’re one of those travelers who likes to estimate down to the minute when you’ll touch down, these are the apps you need.
Tracking your American Airlines flight is a piece of cake. There are a handful of ways to predict almost exactly the arrival times of any flight.
Let us know if you have questions, and be sure to offset the cost of your flights with the best American Airlines credit cards. You can also subscribe to our newsletter for more travel tips like this in the future.