02 August 2013

Flight Tracking Software - Part 3 of 3

In this last segment of the 3-parter, I will teach you how to use the combination of software to allow you to have fullest control of your itinerary.

First thing to do. Get rid of FlightTrack (Pro/Free). It is an irrelevant software in Asia-Pacific. I will fall short of saying that it is totally worthless as who knows? It may just be the bestest software for North American passengers.

So without further ado, let's get this tutorial started.

1. When you are about to book a flight, key in the flight details in 航班管家 and it will show you the punctuality record of this particular flight.

I've picked Shenzhen Airlines ZH9815 from Shenzhen BaoAn Airport (SZX) to Shanghai HongQiao Airport (SHA) to illustrate this.

As you can see, this flight is delayed by more than an hour, 72% of the time. It is really a crappy flight which begs one to wonder why they even bother to schedule this?

So. You have a choice here.

You can choose to book this flight and run the risk of getting delayed or perhaps if you feel lucky that it would fall under the 19% category of on-time departure that particular day?

Roll the dice?

Or perhaps you are better off booking another flight?

2. OK. So you decided to go ahead and book this flight anyway. What you can do next, if you are really kiasu or in my case really boh liao, is track this flight for 5 consecutive days prior to your actual day of departure. From there, you can see a trend in the departure time. Bad weather like typhoon may affect the flight schedule over several days. Or perhaps there is a military exercise occupying the airspace that coincides with your flight path during that particular week? Or perhaps this particular flight punctuality is JUST THAT SHITTY?

3. Now we come to the day of the actual flight.

Switch over the 飞常准.

The app has a way of calculating the probability of a punctual flight that day.

To be honest, this doesn't really do much for the passenger except that it mentally prepares you ahead of your pending flight.

To add salt to injury, the numbers changes (in either direction) as the time of departure draws nearer.

You only get a good feel of the flight by regularly checking back and spot the trend if the number is descending or ascending.

The next point is actually a better option but this particular one nevertheless deserves a mention.

4. This feature is available in both apps. It shows you your flight from the previous sector i.e. where your plane is coming from.

In this particular case, the plane where you will be boarding is actually Shenzhen Airline ZH9812 from Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG).

Track this particular flight as well and you would be able to know if your flight will or will not be delayed. Simple logic. Your plane comes in late, you depart late. Your plane comes in early or punctual, you depart on time. Well. Most of the time that is.

With that information, you can choose to reach the airport accordingly without wasting too much time waiting around the airport or you may want to hit the airport early to see if you can catch an earlier shuttle.

For the sake of further illustration, let say we decided to stick to the flight.

As you can see, the flight from the previous sector took off 2-1/2 hours later than scheduled. That however does not mean that your flight will delay by the same amount of time.

The new time of arrival, as a result of the delayed departure, is estimated to be changed to 16:16.

A flight turnaround is approximately 45 to 60 minutes (ground crew need time to clear rubbish and flush the toilets before you board).

That means that the estimate time of departure for your flight would be around 17:00 to 17:30. Given that the original time of departure was scheduled to be 16:50, you should be looking at a slight delay of about 30 minutes, discounting any other disruptions.

For me, anything within an hour is still considered on time. Yes, I have set the bar THAT LOW for QQLand domestic flights.

Two things to note here.

First, the screen cap here is the same flight but different day from the earlier image (depicting 68.59% punctuality probability). I thought I mentioned it here lest people get confused how a 2-1/2 hour delayed flight still has a 69% chance of taking off on time.

Secondly, we are making the assumption that the incoming connecting flight will be the plane that you will be boarding. For flights with severe delays, there is a possibility that the airline will deploy another plane to take over the flight. So do be alert as it will likely be a new boarding gate if they decided to switch planes.

Bon Voyage.

- Voxeros

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