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iMessage Flight Tracker

You're probably aware of websites that track airline flights. I use Flightaware. However, there is an easier way to track a flight, though it provides less information than Flightaware. And even better, it’s available on your iPhone and iPad in the iMessage app and appears to work with both domestic and international flights. I have not tested with local or private airlines.


All you need to do is text a valid flight number to someone, or have someone text their flight number to you. When you send or receive a valid flight number, the number will be underlined in the text message. Tap that flight number and then tap Preview flight. A window opens and displays the departure and arrival cities, terminals and gates, times, flight status, flight duration, time remaining, and the baggage claim station once the flight arrives, though this item does not always populate..


There's also a small map at the top of the window that displays the departure and destination cities and a small airplane pointed in the flight direction. The plane’s location changes as the flight progresses.


Things to know:

  1. iMessage seems designed to track flights departing within the upcoming 24 hours.

  2. Do not insert spaces within the flight number.

  3. It appears you can use upper or lowercase letters in the airline’s code name.

  4. Be sure you have a correct flight number. For example, I searched Flightaware for flights between Atlanta and San Diego. I found a flight labeled DAL2387 and texted that number to myself. It was not automatically underlined in the text message and nothing happened when I tapped it. Back on Flightaware, I clicked the link for that flight number and the next window showed the flight as DAL2387/DL2387. When I used DL2387 (or dl2387) in the text, I got the expected results.

This is an easy way to track flights. It may also be helpful when minors or the elderly travel alone, as long as they're able to text to you.

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