Apple’s Messages app might come in handy if you are picking up your family from the airport or have to catch a flight yourself. The Messages app available in iOS and iPadOS devices can be used as a flight tracker to check for delays, gate assignments, baggage claim numbers and other information. This feature can help you know if a flight is running early or late, or if the plane has been directed to taxi to a different gate. All the important flight information you need can be found on the Messages app and iPhone users don’t need to install a separate airline app.
How to use it?
There are some important things that you have to keep in mind that the iMessages must be enabled. To enable it, visit the Settings option and then select Messages. Make sure that the toggle switch next to iMessage is turned on. Having the iMessage turned on is important as flight information won’t work on SMS or MMS.
The flight that you want the Messages app to track has to be written in the content of a message that you have sent to someone (even yourself) or was sent to you. This information must be sent in a specific format that includes the [Airline] [Flight number]; for example Air India AI-763.
Open the Messages app and look for the thread that has the message that contains the flight information. When the specific message with this particular info shows up on your phone, the flight information will be underlined, making it actionable and with the ability to be tapped on. On the contrary, if a flight you’re tracking is a few months away, or has already taken off, you’ll find a message saying, “Flight information unavailable.”
One should also beware about airlines “recycling” flight numbers. So, if you travelled Air India flight 762 from Delhi to Kolkata and the next time you find Air India flight 762 in the Messages app, it might stand for a different flight from Bangalore to Mumbai.
Features available on this service
One can use this service to know whether your flight is on time, the gate where it will taxi to and other information without having to install an airline app. You will find two options if you choose the actionable underlined message with the name of the airline and the flight number, which are — Preview Flight and Copy Flight Code. The first option will show you more info about this flight if you tap on this box and if you tap on the latter option it will copy the flight code and put it in your clipboard from where it can be shared with others through text or email.
If you select Preview Flight, you will find a flight tracking map with a dot on the flight’s origin and one on the destination, at the top of the screen. A small airplane icon will move between the two points showing you the flight’s location in real-time. It sounds like a lot of data, but there’s even more info to be found underneath the map that includes — Airline name and flight number, Flight status (arriving on time, delayed, canceled, and so on), Arrival and departure time, Terminal and gate numbers (for arrival and departure), Baggage claim (the number of the baggage carousel)`and Flight duration.
You can switch between different flights if you swipe left on the bottom half of the flight tracker. But this feature will only work if you need to track a return flight. All of this useful information is important if you’re heading to the airport to pick up someone or drop someone off. In both cases, knowing the terminal and gate number, the baggage carousel number, the flight status, the airline and the flight number, can make the task quicker and not to mention a lot smoother.