Once the lords of the back of in-flight magazines, loopy-lined flight route maps appear to be quietly disappearing on some major airlines’ websites. One possible explanation is the fact that many online airline shoppers have already done their homework by the time they arrive at the airline’s site to book a flight. But some travelers are clinging to the old way, saying flight maps are one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine direct routes and hub cities.
Some airlines, such as JetBlue and Alaska Airlines, maintain the maps as an interactive feature to enable online booking. Others, like KLM or US Airways have buried the maps a few clicks in or done away with them completely, offering instead a destination guide of all the cities served.
Meanwhile, flight routes are finding a new use online, not for planning your next connection, but in a really cool data visualization project by Contrailz. The developers collected plane tracking data from Planefinder.com and mapped the routes and altitudes followed by jets. Zoomed in, you can see the individual paths flown by planes approaching airports, while on a larger scale it’s an abstract, artistic look at the way we fly.