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Reader Jim writes in to ask:

Is there a website that can provide me route data for airline flights?  I don’t want a database of which flight goes where, I want a detailed map of the exact route it takes.  i.e. if I fly to Seattle, do I pass over Oklahoma City? Kansas City? Denver?  Or are all commercial flights pretty much dead straight?

It’s a good question, and oddly enough, one that I was thinking about myself just the other day, on our flight from Baltimore to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

On that flight, I noticed that instead of taking the straight shot between the 2 cities

Map copyright

Map copyright

We were taking a more indirect approach, hugging the east cost of the United States before turning southeast towards Puerto Rico. I assumed that was to maximize the chances of landing on land in case of an emergency.

The best website for tracking flight path is You can put in the airline, origin and destination, and it will show you the route the plane took (or is taking, for tracking flight path for a live flight).  Here was our flight path from Baltimore to San Juan (again, I assume this is to minimize the time you’re far away from available airports in case of emergency.


To answer Jim’s question, assuming he meant going to Seattle from Atlanta, this is what it looks when we are tracking flight path from Atlanta to Seattle.


So he’ll likely fly just north of Kansas City, and nowhere near either Oklahoma City or Denver.

As I mentioned, FlightAware will also track live flights and you can look at maps of where all the planes are at a given time (it’s a pretty cool way to waste some time!).  Have you ever used FlightAware, or is there another site that you’ve used for tracking flight path?  Let us know in the comments

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