When I was a kid, we'd fly one or two times a year to Canada to visit my relatives; one trip, during a particularly eventful snow delay, I got a chance to look at flight path estimators and was completely hooked.
These days, you can preview flight paths right from your iPhone or Mac — no cumbersome CRT monitor or terribly-designed FAA flight graph required. Apple built flight tracking directly into the Messages app: You need only the airline name and flight number to find out the status of the flight.
In the flight tracking window, you'll be able to see the plane's current status on an interactive map (which you can pan and zoom), flight number, current status, terminal departure and arrival gates, and times of departure/estimated arrival along with any delays.
Note: Messages' flight tracking is primarily designed for flights taking off within 24 hours; as such, you can't look up planned flight paths for future days.
How to track your flights on the iPhone or iPad
- Open the Messages app.
Find the conversation where a user has sent you flight information. They'll need to type the Airline Name and Flight Number in succession (I've also seen this work with the airline abbreviation and number, but not consistently).
- Press and hold on the information (or 3D Touch it) to open the Flight Tracker window.
Tap Preview Flight.
How to track your flights on your Mac
- Open the Messages app.
Find the conversation where a user has sent you flight information. They'll need to type the Airline Name and Flight Number in succession. (I've also seen this work with the airline abbreviation and number, but not consistently.)
Click on the information (or Force Touch it) to open the Flight Tracker window.
Questions about iMessage?
Let us know in the comments!
Update November 2018: Updated for iOS 12 and macOS Mojave.
Serenity Caldwell contributed to an earlier version of this article.
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