As an AvGeek, I guess I have a fair amount of knowledge when it comes to knowing commercial passenger aircraft. This is especially true for Airbus and Boeing aircraft, as they are the most ‘dominant’ ones flying out there. With time, as I grew up, I have come to learn more about these planes and even started to ‘love’ some of the models. Personally, I am not really a fan of small or narrow-body jets (which have a single aisle in the middle). Not that I have some safety issue with them! But to me it just somehow feels uncomfortable and ‘squeezed up’ flying in a small aircraft.
So yep for me, the bigger/wider the aircraft, the happier I am! More spacious, comfortable, and sense of security. But of course in majority of the short-haul routes, you would expect to fly in a narrow-body jet and there is not really any other choices. In those cases, I just accept it… what to do, it’s a short flight after all 😉 . Though while we are on this topic, I might just as well mention which aircraft I like and my favorites.
From Airbus, I like the A330, and recently started liking, or even adoring the new player out there – A350! (Though I haven’t flown on it yet). But I’ll admit, I am more of a Boeing fan and therefore I do looove the B777 and B787 Dreamliner! But as I still didn’t fly with the Dreamliner yet (as of July 2016), Boeing 777 (especially the B777-300ER) remains (and hopefully will) my absolute favorite! At this point, I apologize to all those who are crazy about big, fat, flying whales like the A380 and B747. Sorry, but their design/exterior look is just not for me, although I know that the ‘inner beauty’ is more important 😉
BUT WE ARE GETTING OFF-TOPIC! (Though an introduction was necessary…. on second thought, perhaps I should write another post on this topic?)
So let’s just get back on track now shall we? I’m sure many of us noticed a certain information when booking plane tickets – a hint on which aircraft your flight is being operated for the destination which you booked. But if you are interested, you can find out about which airlines operates which aircraft on a certain route even before you book your ticket. I am going to show you here how to do this – and there are two different ways:
SeatGuru is a well-known, awesome, and reliable website which shows seat maps of different aircraft of many different airlines. In addition, the seat reviews and recommendations help many passengers to choose the best available seat for their flights during booking or checking-inns. Due to the seat information which are interconnected with different airlines according to their routes and the aircraft served on these routes, this site is quite a useful one if you want to find out which aircraft is flying on your next journey.
Curious to know how to check that? Here we go!
Step 1 : Go on SeatGuru
Step 2 : Click on ‘I don’t know my flight number’. As most flight numbers are unknown before booking a ticket, this is the suitable option. Then you should see something similar to the following screenshot, where you enter the airlines, departing and destination cities, and a date of your flight or any other random dates.
Step 3 : Enter your search…or in this case, click “Find Seat Map” and you should get your information as shown below. This has your routes, flight numbers, departure and arrival times (which are in local times), the aircraft operated on each flight, the amenities the aircraft provides, and of course, their respective seat maps!
You might have noticed that in this example, there are three different flights. That means between Frankfurt and Dubai, there are three daily flights operated by Emirates on this route. Sometimes though, you will see something like the following – certain so-called ‘codeshare’ flights.
As you can see, on the second flight it says “this flight is a codeshare operated by Jet Airways”. Which means, this is indeed ‘officially’ an Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok, BUT the aircraft used on this flight is from Jet Airways! So, you won’t be expecting the same seats and amenities as you would on an Etihad aircraft.
I should mention something important here! You should keep in mind that although the results on SeatGuru are official and updated from airlines’ databases, in reality, things can be a little different! What I mean by that, is that you might not get to experience flying with the same aircraft as mentioned on your itinerary or on the official search results. Though not very often, change of aircraft does happen! And there are several reasons for it – technical issues, low/high demand (passenger load), aircraft availability, scheduling issues etc etc… Therefore, it is necessary for you to stay updated on which aircraft were actually used recently on the same flight which you will be taking very soon.
And this is where the second method comes into action!
I suppose many of us know that passenger flights all over the world are possible to track real-time at this age. There are now several websites which offer this wonderful innovation but Flight Radar 24 is the best and most reliable (and famous) one out there for tracking flights.
The site offers more than just tracking airborne flights and their details! It gives information on flights which already landed, information on different airlines and their aircraft, information on airport arrivals, departures, and delays, and so much more fun stuff ! If you click on one of those airborne planes on your screen, it would show something like this.
On this example, we can see an Emirates flight with Flight # EK 94 is airborne on its way to Dubai from Bologna, Italy. We can also see its scheduled and actual departure and arrival times, distance between the two cities and the distance covered so far by the airplane. Cool eh? but hang on, it gets better! We can also check out…..
….. certain details about the aircraft and its flight! When you are tracking a certain flight, this box will appear on the left-hand side, showing you every important details of the flight – the aircraft type, its registration, speed, and altitude. There are few other interesting details you can’t see unless you are a paid, premium member of Flight Radar 24…. but you really won’t need that unless you are very much into all technical details!
So you see, as this site shows nearly everything about every flight, it’s a good source to find out about the aircraft of your upcoming (or even recent) flight. But one downside to this is that you actually need to know the flight number. But in case you don’t know the flight number off your head, you can just look it up on your ticket or on SeatGuru even. And when you know that little info, here’s what to do next!
Step 1 : Go on Flight Radar 24.
Step 2 : On top right in the search box, type in the flight number. For example, lets say we want to check recent flights from Munich to Dubai. One of the flights on this route has the flight # EK 54. So type in EK54 (without space) and you should see drop-down search results like this.
Click on the specific flight number. Oh btw, if a flight is airborne, it will show up on the results first on the top. Other flights would show up on the bottom. So if EK 54 was airborne, it would have shown on one of the first results. Anyway, moving on to step 3 : Now you should see a data like this!
You can see some recent flights operated on this route. According to schedule, flight EK 54 is operated with a Boeing 777-300ER and in reality, it is indeed being operated with the assigned aircraft (B77w = Boeing 777-300ER’s ‘abbreviation’). On the other hand, you will sometime notice ‘changes’ like in the following example.
According to schedule, Qatar Airways generally operates flight QR 636 from Doha to Dhaka with an Airbus A330-300 (A333). But here you can clearly see that ‘A332′ and B77L’ have also been deployed lately – which are Airbus A330-200 and Boeing 777-200LR and these aircraft are not assigned to operate the regular schedule on this route. But ‘swapping’ of aircraft had to be made, possibly because of one or more of the reasons I’ve already mentioned up there. This is one of many hundred situations out there where you can’t be expecting to fly the same aircraft as already scheduled!
I hope you aren’t bored already at this point … I know it’s a pretty long post! But there are two more ‘interesting’ stuff to show you before I get the hell outta here… so stay with me a little more pleaasee 🙂
Moving on then….. It can be also interesting for aviation enthusiasts or curious passengers to find out to which destinations a certain aircraft flew to recently! Do you see next to the aircraft model those numbers and letters combination? They look like these – A6-ENM or A7-AEN or PH-BHA or 9V-SWA etc… These are known as aircraft registration. Just like cars, each aircraft have a unique registration number which identifies a specific aircraft. You can easily click on the registration number on the data box, and it will show you the aircraft’s recent flights. Or you can also type in the aircraft’s registration on the search box, just like for flight numbers. For example, let’s check out A6-ENM and see where it has been recently.
We can see here that one of Emirates’ 118 Boeing 777-300ERs with the registration A6-ENM recently flew to St. Petersburg, Glasgow, Jakarta, Beirut, Delhi, and Singapore.
Last but not least, in one of my posts a while ago I mentioned that there is a way I can know which aircraft is old and which is new. This is particularly true for Emirates. Being my favorite airline, I more or less can tell you if one of their aircraft is old or new just by knowing the registration number and the aircraft its registered with. And this is the last thing I am going to ‘teach’ you as well on this post. Not just Emirates, this little ‘trick’ works for any other airlines!
Are you ready? here goes then! The important thing here is to know the aircraft registration first of all. Let’s use an example this time from…. Cathay Pacific Airways shall we? If my memory serves me right, one of their Boeing 777-300ER’s registration is B-KPM. Searching for the age of an aircraft is really easy! Just type in the registration number on google, and you will be provided with search results from different pages. But I recommend only results from Planefinder or Planespotters ! For Cathay Pacific’s B-KPM, I got the following results.
Not only we can see this aircraft’s age, which is btw a little more than 6 years only, but also we can see other details like date of first flight, registration, and delivery. Pretty fascinating I must say, for an AvGeek at least! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I got to know about how old or young Emirates’ fleet is!
Before I finish off, I do apologize if this long ass post made you bored! But I was only trying to help so I also hope that you learned one of the useful “flight hacks” out there from this post! Most importantly, I hope that this will help make decisions for your future flights in a better way 🙂
If you stayed with me until the end, I really thank you so much! Feel free to let me know in the comments what you think about this and also feel free to share any similar flight hacks with us if you know some. Cheers!