Today I cycled through Zurich and also came across the airport. I used the chance and made some pictures of aircraft taking off. Since I'm very interested in the type of aircraft as well as the destination, I would like to identify the flights that I have taken pictures of. So how can I identify the type of aircraft and the destination of a flight when I know the airport, the time and sometimes also the airline?


Based on the answer I tried to use the airports departure and arrival schedule. However, for example in Zurich, this seems to only work for the actual day, and some days in the future, but not for past flights. Aren't there any other possibilities? Maybe something similar as FlightAware?


I'm still looking for a canonical answer that is applicable to all airports as well as all kind of flights whether flights of the actual day or from previous days.

  • Airline flights are nearly always on a weekly schedule, so if you were there on (say) a Tuesday, the next Tuesday's flights will be virtually identical. Apr 4, 2012 at 22:11

3 Answers 3


You can go the airport's website. There you will usually find a list with the departures and the arrivals of the day and sometimes even the seasonal flight plan in pdf format. For Zurich, have a look at this page. Some airports have apps for smartphones and/or mobile versions of their websites which show live departures and arrivals.If you have a smartphone, you can then check immediately.

This only works for commercial passenger flights. For cargo flights or private flights you will have to stick to a more classical method, and use e.g. an airliner identification book. For a recommendation, you could ask on a dedicated site, such as e.g. Airliners.net. Obviously, with this method you won't find out anything about destination or the provenance of the aircraft.

  • This seems to work quite well for the actual day. But unfortunately I can't find any information for the last days. Isn't there any online resource where I can check every flight? Apr 2, 2012 at 8:16

FlightAware provides an estimated take-off and landing time. It might be useful as an estimate, but Airliners.net will definitely help with identifying an aircraft type and airline. Destinations will be much more difficult to come by, unless you match up the arrival times with the timetables for a particular airline.

For Zurich: http://flightaware.com/live/airport/LSZH


FlightStats provides up to one day of historical arrival/departure information for airports.

FlightStats and FlightAware provide individual flight history for specific dates in the past, so you could also find all of the flights servicing an airport and then figure out what flight it was by comparing actual departure/arrival times.


(I'll add my own answer to my question since I found a very cool tool that works at least for Zurich airport.)

For Zurich airport there is an online real-time flight tracker available on this website. It is a really awesome tool that shows you all the planes that have a transponder (~80%) and that are within the limits of two antennas placed on hills around Zurich.

Using this tool is should be easily possible to identify such flights in real-time. I'm not yet sure if it provides also some historic data.

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