Tail Number Lookup

Tail number, as the name indicates, refers to the number on the tail of the aircraft by which the airplanes are popularly identified. A tail number can represent the registration number (civil aviation) of an aircraft and the military aircraft serials of the United States and the United Kingdom.

tail number lookup

The aircraft registration number or the tail number is to be marked on the exterior of every civil aircraft and this is done as per the international convention.

The registration number of the aircraft is a number that signifies the country of registration of the aircraft. The tail number of an aircraft functions more like the license plate of an automobile or the registration of a ship. The same must also appear in the Certificate of Registration of an aircraft, as issued by the relevant National Aviation Authority (NAA).

When it comes to registration, it is mandatory that an aircraft has only one registration, and that too in one jurisdiction, though it is changeable over the life of the aircraft.

How to Check Aircraft Tail Number?

All of the aircraft are marked by registration numbers that are unique to each. These registration or tail numbers are usually printed on or near the tail, which would be easily identified just like how we identify cars, bikes, or buses with their license plates.

You can simply keep a track of the tail numbers on your flight log in order to recall whether you have been on a particular airplane before. Besides, with the tail number, you would also know the airplanes on which you have flown most often.

You would usually be seeing the tail number of your flight. Yes, it would be there on the tail of the plane, right in front of you! However, in case you cannot check it up, even then you would be able to discover your tail number but with a bit of work.

What people usually do!

Now, if you are unable to see the tail number directly, then you need to find some other way out to identify the airplane uniquely. This is where you can take help from third-party websites, which are there online. There are numerous websites that can help you in looking up your airplane with the help of any other features which will ultimately let you know all the details of your flight including the tail number.

Websites like Planespotters maintain a database of airline fleets. Therefore, as soon as you are aware of the operator of your flight, you can start narrowing down the aircraft that you would be flying on almost instantly.

How to Lookup Tail Number

1. Check FlightRadar24

Flightradar24 is a great option if you want to look up the tail number of your flight. It often has tail number data on flights that are within a few hours of departure, and also for a few days after departure. Therefore, you can simply try searching for your airline and flight number. However, you need to note that you will have to use an airline code instead of an airline name to search. For instance, if you need to search “AA1454” instead of “American Airlines 1454”).

The website might also not work particularly well if you have got an iPhone or an Apple device but you will get support on the android devices and other devices that run on Windows.

2. Look for a Door Plaque

Some aircraft, like Boeing 737s for example, will have a metal plaque that will be mounted on the inside of their entry door frame. This will help you get some product information from the aircraft.

3. You can also ask the Crew

The airplane crew is really helpful and are some of the best persons whom you can ask for your tail number. Yes, you can definitely choose to ask your flight attendant while you are boarding whether they could get the tail number from a pilot.

You might not choose this as an option considering the whole lot of things that the crew has to manage during preflight, but this is also an option to get the tail number of your flight.


Getting a tail number is not as difficult as you might have imagined. Therefore, if you are thinking of grabbing your tail number before onboarding then you can simply follow the process mentioned above to get through the verification process as smoothly as possible. Have a safe and happy journey and never regret it if unfortunately, you cannot manage to get the tail number of your flight handy!

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Dharmesh Donda

iStaunch is written by Dharmesh Donda, an avid Internet geek, IT professional since 2012. Have been in IT industry for more than a decade, and currently doing management and consulting work have taken a plunge into entrepreneurship.

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