FlightAware: The Essential App for Uber and Lyft Drivers in Small Markets

FlightAware app splash screen showing the wing of an airplane.Uber and Lyft drivers, especially those in small- to mid-sized markets, need to download the FlightAware app in order to plan the best time meet incoming travelers.

I live in Burlington, Vermont. Beautiful, and small. Unlike Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, which has flights arriving constantly, Burlington International Airport has periods of the day with little commercial flight activity. (We get one flight in from Toronto, during winter months only, but that makes us international.) 

In most markets, rides originating at the airport have a higher than average chance of generating a profitable, long fare. But it’s important to minimize waiting time. 

Ride-hailing drivers can use a flight tracking app, like FlightAware (available for Android and iOS), to see incoming flights and swing by the airfield shortly after a flight’s arrival.

The app records arrival times when the rubber meets the runway, so you will have to factor in taxiing time to the gate and offloading. I generally find that ride requests begin about 15-20 minutes after touchdown.


Important note: This is not an affiliate page, which means I am not getting reimbursed to review this app. I use FlightAware, and I like FlightAware. It does everything I need it to do, and I think you could find it useful.

FlightAware: A Walkthrough for Uber and Lyft Drivers

FlightAware start up screen, featuring airport search bar.I’ll walk you through looking up flights. Upon first opening the app, you will enter a search for your local airport.

FlightAware searchThe screen will populate with suggestions.

FlightAware airport screen, showing basic weather info and a map of nearby flights.Once you have entered your airport, the app will display basic weather information on top of a map of nearby flight activity. Blue planes approach your airport, while tan planes have other destinations and are flyovers. (You can tap on a plane and find its flight number and route, if you wish. The amount of information in this program astounds me.)

In the lower left, you’ll find a button with a silhouette of a plane. Click on it to bring up flight information for your airport.

FlightAware default screen, departures. Departures comes up as the initial screen. This information is useless to drivers.

FlightAware_Arrivals.Two tabs over from departures, the arrivals tab holds good information. We can see how recently a flight arrived. In this example, we can see that a flight arrived from Chicago (flight ASQ3827) at 1:36. FlightAware lists all the flights into and out of an airport, so you will need to filter out small, private planes, which have a flight number beginning with N. The second flight listed in this example is a private flight.

Remember, FlightAware lists the arrival time as the time the jet touched down on the runway. It does not mark arrival at the gate.

FlightAware_En_Route_ planesThe “En Route” tab (#1 in the illustration) holds great information for those meeting passengers. It lists the flight number (2) and the type of plane (3), along with the originating airport and the time of arrival.

Here’s where you’ve been given a lot of information, and can dig deeper if you wish. With a little Googling, I can see that the E135 refers to an Embraer 135, which holds about 40 people. The second plane scheduled to arrive,CRJ7, a Canada Regional Jet 700, can carry about 60. So, in the next half hour, approximately 100 people will be arriving at the airport, not counting the  30, or so, people on the flight from Chicago that arrived at 1:36.

Conclusion: Now is a good time to be at the airport.

Bonus tip: Use the passenger app to position yourself closest to the terminal.

drivers-_use_uber_passenger_appYou can see here, that there are about four cars around the airport. Large airports, like LAX, have designated ride-hailing lots. These lots have electronic queues, where the first one in the lot gets matched with the first passenger. But those features don’t exist in the small airports like Burlington International, where matching is done by whichever driver is closest.

I have not tried other flight apps, because FlightAware provides all the information I need, whether I am driving Uber or picking up my wife. I can always know exactly when a flight will arrive.

What apps have you found useful? Let me know.







1 thought on “FlightAware: The Essential App for Uber and Lyft Drivers in Small Markets

Leave a Comment