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In other questions on this site, it has been suggested to use FlightAware to check by how much a flight was delayed.

However, I've noticed that the scheduled arrival time from FlightAware (and therefore the computed delay) doesn't match with the time written on the ticket.

(example for a flight that is scheduled for later today:

I'm asking because FlightAware tells me that a delay I've recently experienced was of 3 hours and 19 minutes, but by looking at the Ryanair's reported scheduled arrival time, the flight has only been 2 hours and 59 minutes late. If the former is to be believed, I'd get EU261 compensation!

  • It is doubtful that Ryanair would use a third-party flight tracking service time as a basis for compensation. They would have records of this that they would check against and that would be the basis of any compensation owed. – Ron Beyer Aug 28 '18 at 19:52
  • @RonBeyer thank you for your comment. I assure you that I don't think Ryanair would use FlightAware for their decision. However, since I don't know where FlightAware gets the info it displays, I was wondering whether its source was some kind of official repository, and whether I can consider its information in some way correct and internally consistent. Because, as far as I can tell, I don't have access to the internal log Ryanair keeps of their flight times, so I need to refer to third parties. – Nicola Sap Aug 28 '18 at 20:11
  • I've edited the title of the question to make it clearer in that regards. – Nicola Sap Aug 28 '18 at 20:14
  • Usually FlightAware bases its time on ADS-B transmissions from the aircraft, when the aircraft changes its data stream from "flying" or "taxiing" to "at the gate" (so-to-speak). This can differ from Ryanair's arrival time because they may consider "arrived" the moment the aircraft touches down whereas Flightaware may not consider it arrived until it is parked at the gate. – Ron Beyer Aug 28 '18 at 20:14
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    For the purpose of delay compensation according to the EU regulation, arrival time is defined as the point of time where the first passengers are allowed to leave the aircraft. Neither 'touch down' or 'parked at gate' times are relevant for this. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Aug 28 '18 at 20:24
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To passengers, an airline considers flight time the period from when the cabin door is closed to when the door is opened. Similarly, EU261 considers the time of door opening for compensation. Such data is reported automatically from the aircraft over a company data link and shown on their website.

FlightAware, because its based on ATC and aircraft navigation data, can't see these events, so it isn't accurate in determining this time. For example, if the engines are shutdown, but the door can't be opened because there's no jetway driver, FlightAware would be definitely incorrect.

An alternate means of measuring flight time is the time it lifts off until it lands, which is used for technical purposes (aircraft maintenance). While a valid measure, it isn't relevant for EU261.

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