New Tool Predicts Flight Delays


On the surface, FlightCaster is a pretty simple tool: You go to the website (or open the app on your smartphone), enter your flight number or route, and find the likelihood that your flight will be on time, delayed less than 60 minutes, or delayed more than 60 minutes.

Of course, anyone who's ever flown knows exactly how un-simple that really is. But FlightCaster purports to have created an algorithm that combines numerous factors (inbound aircraft tracking, weather forecasts, and flight history) and figures out the chances that your flight will be late. It's worth noting that FlightCaster predicts delayed arrivals, not departures, so passengers should still arrive on time even if FlightCaster predicts a late flight (after all, your flight may board and leave the gate on time only to sit on the tarmac).

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The tool works best for flights departing within six hours, but you can search for flights leaving the following day and get information on the previous day's routes. The service is free to use online, but you must purchase the app for your smartphone (normally $10, but currently available for $4.99).

So, the big question is: How accurate are the results? I got in touch with Evan Konwiser, co-founder of FlightCaster, who told me the tool is roughly 85 percent accurate. "As you might imagine, it is more accurate closer in," he said, but FlightCast is "focusing now on improving our accuracy further out from departure." FlightCast will publish accuracy numbers in the near future, so it will be interesting to see how its doing.

There are a few holes, to be sure: The tool only works for domestic flights (for now) and the navigation is a bit clumsy (if you search by route and select a route from the results, you can't see the list of results again unless you do another search). Konwiser told me FlightCast plans to add an alternate flight search that will include delay predictions and flight status for the alternatives, and display the cost of rebooking, which will make the tool much more useful for travelers already on the go.

Would you check FlightCaster before flying? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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