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This probably has already an answer somewhere, but probably don't know the proper search keys to find the information.

Out of curiosity today I was trying to track a flight: one of my friend texted me about her flight being a lot late, and for fun I wanted to try to see if it was possible to understand what caused the delay. I knew flightradar24 by fame and found too flightaware by chance; I tried with the flight number (EZY2604...if this is the flight number) and couldn't find many information, 'till I realized that EZY2604 is probably something like the callsign for the route plus the scheduling, so with that I can only find details for this combination. And I can only track a plane which is flying, it seems.

TL;DR: how can I go from a flight number to the full route of the physical plane in the previous hours?

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  • $\begingroup$ Did your friend give you the right flight number? It seems that EZY2604 does not exist. The closest number would be EZY2600. $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Mar 28 '16 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ It exists, but only on FlightAware it seems. But it seems to have another code, U22604. EasyJet list it under both. $\endgroup$ – motoDrizzt Mar 28 '16 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ It would be EZY42EA in fr24.com then. $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Mar 28 '16 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ I know with United they have a mobile app that includes a "where is this plane coming from" which you can continually click until you find the one that departs late. Most likely the aircraft was delayed on the ground somewhere, so if you are looking for an oddly-long flight you probably won't find it. This is almost always because of a mechanical problem or a crew time-out problem which dominoes from a one-two hour delay to many hours later and eventually the flight being cancelled. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Mar 28 '16 at 14:06
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If you want to look for the airplane that flew a certain flight (U22604/EZY42EA for your case), you could go onto flightradar24.com/data and search for that specific flight to find the list of aircraft which flew with the callsign and if you select any one of the planes, you can find out the flight history of that plane for the past few months. You could also search flightaware.com/ for flight history too.

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  • $\begingroup$ I did a small edit to the question to make it less specific. I want to accept your answer, but could you edit it to be more generic? I think it would be more useful for others :-) $\endgroup$ – motoDrizzt Mar 30 '16 at 7:29
  • $\begingroup$ @motoDrizzt Is that better? $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Mar 30 '16 at 11:26
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EZY is the ICAO airline identifier for EasyJet. U2 is their IATA identifier. That's why it's listed as both. Normally Flight Aware and FlightRadar24 both use the 3-letter ICAO ID. It's a little unusual to have to search with the IATA code, but go figure.

The problem with tracking a plane instead of a flight is that the system doesn't know which aircraft is being used until it actually pushes back. There's always the possibility of a last-minute aircraft change.

SMSvonderTann's method of looking up past flights and seeing what aircraft flew the route before will get you a possible, or maybe even probable tail no. but if the flight is delayed there's a possibility that it is being swapped out.

You can see from the listing that the plane that flew EZY2604 from ATH to MXP flew the reverse EZY2603 from MXP to ATH right before. You can then try looking up 2603 and see what the status is on that.

Problem is you never really know for sure if they might change the aircraft until it's in the air. And a delay makes that more likely.

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