How to make a Flight Path Map in Tableau

By 5th Jan 2020Blog, Tableau
How to make a Flight Path Map in Tableau

In this article I’ll show you how to make a Flight Path Map in Tableau. This is my first blog post about Tableau, and I hope you enjoy!

1. Getting the data ready in an Excel spreadsheet

I’m basing this data on a list from Wikipedia. It’s an article listing the busiest air routes in Australia by passenger traffic.

Below is the data that I’ve added and edited. I’m only interested in passengers from 2017.

I’ve listed each Route twice, with each instance having a different Path. This will be important for connecting the two cities in Tableau.

So for example, Adelaide – Brisbane is listed twice. Once with Path = 1 and City = Adelaide, and again with Path = 2 and City = Brisbane.

The Excel Spreadsheet showing flight data

You can download the Excel file at this link: https://michaelhoweely.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Australia-Flight-Routes-data-.xlsx

2. Adding the data to Tableau

Open up Tableau (in this example we will be using Tableau Public) and click to connect to a Microsoft Excel file.

Adding a Microsoft Excel file to Tableau

Select the relevant Excel file, and then upload it. Your data should look something like this.

A list of data in for making the Flight route map in Tableau

We can now move on to building our visualization of flight paths.

3. Adding the dimensions and measures to a sheet

With our data added, if we open up Sheet 1 we should see the data separated into Dimensions and Measures as shown below.

With our data added, if we open up Sheet 1 we should see the data separated into Dimensions and Measures as shown below.

We can start off by dragging Country onto our Sheet.

We can start off by dragging Country onto our Sheet. Flight Path Map in Tableau

Next, drag Route, 2017 Passengers, and City onto the sheet. Add City twice as shown below.

Next, drag Route, 2017 Passengers, and City onto the sheet. Add City twice as shown below. Flight Path Map in Tableau

4. Choosing how the dimensions and measures are displayed

To create our Flight Path Map in Tableau, we need to adjust how the dimensions and measures are displayed.

Let’s first click on Size and adjust to make the circles bigger.

To create our Flight Path Map in Tableau, we need to adjust how the dimensions and measures are displayed.

Then change the first City’s setting from detail to Colour.

Then change the first City's setting from detail to Colour.

Finally, change the display setting from Automatic to Line, as shown below.

The colours of each city blend into each other, which is a cool feature.

Finally, change the display setting from Automatic to Line, as shown below. in Tableau. How to make a Flight Path Map in Tableau

The next step is to change the setting of SUM(2017 Passengers) from Detail to Size. This now changes the visualization to show the number of passengers going out of each city.

How to make a Flight Path Map in Tableau. Changing the settings of the size.

5. Adding a City filter to our workbook

The final step is adding an option to filter by City to our Map.

Adding a filter to a Tableau workbook How to make a Flight Path Map in Tableau

We can now filter our filter routes by including and excluding the various cities. In the example below, on the left we have all cities selected, while on the right we have only included Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

In the example below, on the left we have all cities selected, while on the right we have only included Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

6. Saving and displaying on Tableau Public

I’m using a Tableau Public account, so I’ll be saving this visualization workbook to there. Click File and then Save to Tableau Public.

Saving to Tableau public

You’ll then need to sign in to your Tableau account.

Signing in to tableau public

Then decide on a name for the Workbook

Naming your workbook in Tableau

It should save and open up the file in Tableau Public.

Publishing in Tableau public

To embed on a website, we can click to share and then copy and paste the embed code.

Embedding our tableau data visualization on a website

7. Viewing the final Flight Path Map in Tableau

Now our visualization is ready to be shared and embedded online!

I hope you have enjoyed this first post about Tableau on my blog!

Additional Tableau Resources

Read more about Tableau on their website or follow them on Twitter.

I learnt how to make this type of map by watching this video from SuperDataScience on YouTube a few years ago. It’s a great video that uses a different data set than mine, so would recommend watching!

My Other Blog posts

If you’d like to check out other blog posts about digital analytics, take a look at some of my other articles.

I’m Michael


I’m a digital analyst with seven years experience in digital marketing. I’m skilled in web analytics, tag management and data visualization.

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I'm Michael