Visualizations of the Global Flights Network

Lab Reports


With the rapid pace of innovation, airlines and airplane makers are working hard to keep up. People love travel, and if you travel to abroad, how to search a flight with a perfect price and desirable services is the main problem. For Instance, if you used to have the experience flight 19 hours of a long distant flight, you’ll notice that how bad experience when you sit on an airplane seat. Or, your luggage might be lost or delayed in whatever situation. You thought the trip should be fun, but with the bad service of the airline companies, it makes you feel sucks. So with using data analysis and visualization, we could easily see the popular index of the global airports, fight routes, etc, and then we can make better choices of our future trips.

3 Visualizations that Inform/Inspired

Figure 1. Anthropogenic Planet Air Routes (in white lines).

This one shows transportation routes all over the planet. It’s a gigantic, gorgeous visualization of humanity’s transport footprint on planet Earth: urban areas are red, shipping routes blue, roads green and air networks in white. The audiences of this info visualization map can clearly know how people transport from different place with the different color of lines.

Figure 2. Flightnetwork Reviews.

Europe 24 from NATS on Vimeo.

The third inspiration is a video called ‘Europe 24’, created by a company named NATS (, which is the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services. Each year they handle 2.4 million flights and 250 million passengers in UK airspace. This data visualization (video) of Air Traffic in Europe was created from real flight data. It shows the air traffic which flies on a typical summer day and highlights the intensity of the operation in Europe – an operation which runs 24x7x365.

Material, including software and datasets used in the lab

Gephi (0.9.1), Dataset:

Methods used to Create Visualizations

With Gephi (0.9.1) and the related dataset from, it is very convenient to make the data visualized in a good way. In Gephi (0.9.1), input data and choose the Layout ‘forceatlas2’ in the first step, and then use one plugin function ‘Geolayout’ to made the graph showing in a geometric way.

Figure 3. Steps in making visual in Gephi.


Figure 4. Final Info Visualization of Global Flights Network.

Figure 5. Top 10 Airports, Airlines and Routes in Global Flights Network.

Future Directions

Today in most businesses you can design many aspects of your experience. Unfortunately, not on air travel. Customers of the airplane companies cannot choose much about their food, the comfort of their seat, or entertainment. So how we, as innovators or designers, could change our future customers experiences on airplanes? Do we need to change the procedure of every point of service, or adding cutting-edge technologies? Or, by asking customers what they would prefer?

Air travel is in a period of great change. In order to improve the customer experiences, the airline companies need to work with everything, both from the airport to the interior and a seat in the airplane, not to speak of the services they provide, from counter checking to baggage claim area. Back in 2011, the European manufacturer unveiled its ‘Future by Airbus’ concept that outlined, among other things, the company’s vision of the passenger cabin of 2050. This included its own interpretation of the ‘smart seat’ — one able to recognize and adapt to its occupant ergonomically and through entertainment preferences. Creative director Adam White says the flexible structure is based upon a careful anatomical study of the multiple positions that the back adopts while seated. The main strategy of design that starts with the people you are designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs. It is also about building a deep understanding with the people you’re designing for, generating variety of ideas, building a bunch of prototypes; using technology to changes the products and services, eventually putting your innovative new solution into the real world.