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Have you ever wondered how many airline miles you’ll earn for a paid ticket but don’t know where to easily find the information? Or are you someone who does mileage runs to earn points or elite status?
Great Circle Mapper is an online tool that quickly tells you the number of miles between certain airports.
You can view your route on a map, estimate the flight time, get detailed airport information, and search for airport codes. Plus there are lots of advanced functions for aviation geeks and pilot-types!
I’ll show you how to use some of Great Circle Mapper’s basic features to help plan your trips!
How Does It Work?
Link: Great Circle Mapper
Link: Great Circle Mapper FAQ
Great Circle Mapper is a useful tool for folks who want to know the distance and flight time between airports. You might want to know how many miles you’ll earn on a certain route. Or you might be planning a mileage run. Or you’re just curious about airports and aviation!
Using Great Circle Mapper, you can search:
- Distance between 2 or more airports
- Areas within a specified distance of an airport (great if you need a certain number of miles to earn elite status and are planning a mileage run!)
- Estimated flight time for a specified route
- Detailed airport information (airport codes, runway data, time zone, latitude and longitude)
- Pilot flight planning information (aviation weather, extended operations, and technical data)
Many of these features are geared toward folks who work in aviation. But I like using Great Circle Mapper because it’s a quick way to tell how far (and how long) a flight will be!
1. Searching Routes on a Map
If you want to see the route and distance between 2 airports, enter the airport codes separated by a dash in the search box. For example, to find out the distance between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX), enter “JFK-LAX,“ then click “Map.”
You’ll get a map view showing the route and distance. You can zoom in or out using the slider on the left side of the page. And if you want to view detailed airport information, just click on the airport name or code.
So if you booked a non-stop flight on American Airlines from New York JFK to Los Angeles, you’d earn 2,475 base miles. You could use these miles toward an award ticket in the future.
Keep in mind that airlines with revenue-based frequent flyer programs (like Southwest) will earn miles or points based on the fare you’ve paid, NOT the distance flown.
Suppose you want to maximize the number of miles you earn between 2 airports by adding connections.
Perhaps you’re trying to earn American Airlines elite status for free upgrades to Business or First Class and better perks such as free checked bags and priority boarding. Or you just want more miles. Great Circle Mapper will give you the distance for each leg of the trip, and the total distance flown.
Note: The number of elite-qualifying miles you’d earn depends on the fare class of your ticket.
For example, if you wanted to fly from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) via Chicago (ORD) and Seattle (SEA). You’d enter “JFK-ORD-SEA-LAX” in the search box.
The flight time between 2 points depends on the type of aircraft, winds aloft, and if the route needs to be changed (due to weather or traffic concerns). But you can estimate the flight time by entering the average cruising speed of a commercial jetliner. A good ballpark figure is 500 miles per hour.
To see the flight time, scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter “500 miles/hour” in the Ground Speed or Mach section. If you want to get fancy, you can also enter the speed in Mach, knots, kilometers per hour, or feet per second!
Then click “Draw Map” to re-calculate. You’ll see the time per leg, plus total flight time (assuming no wind and a direct route, which never happens, but it’s a good estimate!).
If you want to display several different routes at once (say you have a few different trips coming up and you want to see the total miles you’ll fly), enter the routes, separated by commas.
For example, if I had a trip coming up from Austin (AUS) to Atlanta (ATL) to Rochester (ROC), and another trip from San Diego (SAN) to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to West Palm Beach (PBI), I’d enter “AUS-ATL-ROC,SAN-DFW-PBI” in the search box.
Again, you can click on the airport code or name at any time to display detailed airport information.
2. Airport Codes and Airport Details
Don’t know the airport code for a city? Just type in your destination name (or even part of the name) and click “Airport Info.”
You’ll get a list of all possible matches (including the airport codes for each).
Clicking on the airport name or code will bring you to the airport information page. There’s a LOT of information on this page, much of which only applies to pilots.
But it’s useful to see time zone, elevation, and runway information. And it also lists the furthest airport away from that point (for the curious)!
Pilots will find more information on this page, including detailed weather, charts, and other aeronautical tools. It’s fun to snoop around!
3. Finding Areas Within a Certain Distance of an Airport
Suppose you only need to fly a certain number of miles to reach elite status with an airline. You’re wondering where you can fly from your home airport to reach that requirement.
For example, if you wanted to see which areas are with 1,000 miles of Minneapolis (MSP), you’d type “1000nm@MSP” in the search box and click “Map.” The result looks like this:
Destinations within the lighter shaded area, in this case, are within a 1,000 mile radius of Minneapolis.
There are lots of other features geared to more advanced users. I like playing around with Great Circle Mapper to see what I can find!
Great Circle Mapper is a useful tool for folks who want to quickly search flight distances, times, and airport information. It’s handy if you want to know how many miles you’ll earn on a route, or how long a trip will take.
It also has advanced features that might appeal to serious aviation hobbyists and pilots.
Folks who plan mileage runs can save time using Great Circle Mapper. And it’s just fun to play with if you’re curious about flying!
What do you use Great Circle Mapper for?