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How to Check Flight Delays Nationwide, in One Map


When airlines hit major scheduling turbulence (metaphorically speaking) it can be hard to know where to turn for a comprehensive look at delays. Emergency situations can occur without notice, as we saw with the emergency Boeing groundings of late, and before that with industry-red-tape groundings such as Southwest’s. The airline issued an internal memo last month alerting mechanics to an “operational emergency” stemming from labor negotiations, which caused an unusually high number of out-of-service planes. According to Vox, the the disruption resulted in a spike in more than 1,000 flights delayed and around 100 canceled in a matter of 24 hours.

Southwest was negotiating with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) over labor terms. In a statement, Southwest said “just days after our last negotiations session with AMFA, we experienced an unprecedented number of out-of-service aircraft in four specific maintenance locations despite no change in our maintenance programs, no changes in leadership, and no changes in our policies and procedures.”

Emergency mechanical groundings like Boeing’s obviously happen less often. But both can cause sweeping delays. Luckily, when unexpected and even unprecedented emergency delays occur, there is one place to check all of the live delays across the country.

Tracking Flight Delays in One Map misery map flight delays

Delays and cancellations usually result from weather and other circumstances beyond an airline’s control, but Southwest’s situation is a good reminder that this isn’t always the case. And for travelers, any sudden delays and cancellations can ruin a vacation. In addition to checking with your airline for updates, the flight delay website FlightAware offers two great tools to help travelers visualize the overall state of the skies.

First, travelers can browse live flight delay statistics, showing how many flights are delayed or canceled for the current day. You can click one specific airline to see how it’s doing—here’s Southwest, for example—but the broader view provides some helpful context.

For map-appreciating people like myself, the site’s aptly-named Misery Map displays the data by destination, and overlays a current radar image to show where weather may impact arrivals and departures. Hovering over a destinations displays routes that are be experiencing delays and highlights routes that are on time.

Tools like this don’t eliminate delays from your future travels, but they do help you plan and, hopefully, bring some comfort in knowing you aren’t the only one slogging through a disrupted schedule. It’s a good idea to bookmark the Misery Map for the next time you’re wondering what the chances are you’ll see a flight delay.

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