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You can track a flight in your iPhone’s Messages app — here’s how

Track any flight you want just by texting

airplane flying in sky
Kevin Woblick / Unsplash

Tired of juggling multiple airline apps, frantically refreshing tracking websites, and squinting at airport display boards – all to track your airline flights? Well, if you’re an iPhone user, you can say goodbye to all that (thank goodness) because now you can actually track your flights directly from iMessage. 

white airplane docked at terminal
Bao Menglong / Unsplash

What is iMessage flight tracking?

iMessage flight tracking is a cool hidden feature that lets you view flight information directly within the Messages app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. And you even don’t need to download any extra apps or open a browser window. 

In other words, it’s super convenient for staying up-to-date on your travels.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • You need your flight information included in a text message. This could be sent to you by someone else or you could have copied and pasted it yourself.
  • The flight information needs to be formatted correctly. It should include the airline name or abbreviation followed by the flight number, for example, “American AA8605” or “UA572 United Airlines.”
  • iMessage needs to be enabled on your device.
  • You need to make sure your phone is updated to iOS 17.
person sitting in airport
Marco Lopez / Unsplash

How to use iMessage flight tracking

  1. Pull open your text messages and get ready to send an iMessage. Once you’ve decided on the recipient, go ahead and type your flight info, then press send! 
  2. Now that your flight info is sent as an iMessage, give it a tap! You’ll notice a few different flight tracking options pop up.
  3. If you choose “Preview Flight,” a map will take over your screen, allowing you to track the flight in real time. Plus, you’ll get to see the terminal and gate details, arrival and departure times, and even the baggage claim, where you’ll reunite with your luggage.

How to format your airline details to access the flight tracker

While the full airline name and flight number format is the most reliable, other texting options can access the tracker too. 

For example, with American Airlines 8605, these work:

  • AmericanAirlines8605 
  • AmericanAirlines 8605 
  • AA8605 
  • AA 8605 

Keep in mind – spelling out the name and adding a space seems to be the safest bet to ensure consistency across airlines.

In summary

Here’s how to easily access flight details right from your iMessage:

  1. Tap the flight information within your text.
  2. Choose from two quick-action options:
    • “Preview Flight”: View a real-time flight tracker map, along with essential flight information.
    • “Copy Flight Code”: Share the flight code with others for convenience.

When you select “Preview Flight,” you’ll see:

  • Live flight map: Watch your flight’s progress visually with a moving airplane icon on a map.
  • Key flight details:
    • Airline name and flight number
    • Current flight status (on time, delayed, canceled, etc.)
    • Terminal and gate numbers
    • Arrival and departure times
    • Flight duration
    • Baggage claim carousel number

For round trips:

  • Swipe left on the bottom half of the tracker to view information for your return flight.

Things to keep in mind

  • The flight information will not be available if the flight is too far in the future.
  • In some cases, the iMessage feature might not recognize the flight information even if it’s formatted correctly. You can try entering the information manually in a flight tracking app to see if that works.
Board in the airport that shows flights
Benjamin Wong / Unsplash

FAQs – iMessage flight tracker

How do I enable iMessage flight tracking?

Ensure that iMessage is enabled on your device, and make sure your phone is updated to at least iOS 17.

What flight information do I need for iMessage flight tracking?

You need your flight information included in a text message, formatted with the airline name or abbreviation followed by the flight number.

Can I use iMessage flight tracking for any airline?

Yes, iMessage flight tracking supports various airlines. Ensure the information is formatted correctly, including the airline name or abbreviation and the flight number.

What if the iMessage feature doesn’t recognize the flight information?

In some cases, the feature may not recognize formatted information. Try entering the details manually in a flight tracking app as an alternative.

Are there limitations to iMessage flight tracking?

Flight information may not be available if the flight is too far in the future. Additionally, the feature might not recognize the information in some cases.

view of nearly empty airport
Jue Huang / Unsplash

Bottom line

If you’re an iMessage user, now you can ditch the app juggling and website refreshing – iMessage flight tracking is your new travel bestie! Simply send your flight info in a text, tap it, and voila! Real-time maps, terminal details, and even baggage claim numbers are all at your fingertips. No more squinting at airport boards – iMessage lets you track your flights with ease so you can stay stress-free on your next travel adventure. 

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Kelly Baker
Kelly is a writer who loves good books, baking homemade bread, playing the piano, and spending time with her family.
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