How to quickly track flights in iMessage for iPhone, iPad, and Mac

A photo of an iphone displaying flight information from imessage
(Image credit: iMore)

There are many great apps that allow you to track flights and watch planes land and take-off in real-time. But did you know there's a flight tracker built-in to your iPhone? 

If the answer is no, we don't blame you. There are all kinds of hidden features packed into Apple's iOS iPhone software and this is one of our favorites—but no one talks about it. 

It's built directly into the Messages app—or iMessages to be more exact—and it's a live flight tracker that sends you live locations of flights, details about take-off and landing times, information about delays and even departure gate numbers. To get started, all you need is an airline name and the flight number.

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 flights on the iPhone or iPad

  1. 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. In most cases, this also works with the airline abbreviation and number.
  2. Tap the Airline Name/Abbreviation and Flight Number in Messages.
  3. Choose Preview Flight.

To track your flights on the iPhone or iPad, open Messages and bring up the message with the flight information. Tap on the Airline Air (or Abbreviation) and Flight Number. Choose Preview Flight. (Image credit: iMore)

That's it. You can now see all of the key details about the flight. 

How to track flights on your Mac

  1. 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. In most cases, this also works with the airline abbreviation and number.
  2. Tap the Airline Name/Abbreviation and Flight Number in Messages to bring up the flight information.

To track your flights on a Mac, open Messages and bring up the message with the flight information. Tap on the Airline Air (or Abbreviation) and Flight Number to bring up the flight information. (Image credit: iMore)

You can see that you can quickly track flight information by having the airline name and flight number. Then, click on a link in the Messages app, and you're good to go ... just like the flight!

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.