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How to track flights on an iPhone

Surely you're not serious? Don't call me Shirley!

Published onMarch 6, 2023

airplane inflatable pilot

If you’re the designated pick-up to go and get Granny from the airport, it helps to know if her flight will be arriving on time or not. On an iPhone, there’s an easy way to check without lots of Googling or checking the airline website. Here’s how to track flights on an iPhone.


To track a flight on an iPhone, swipe right on the Home Screen, and then swipe down from the top, to reveal the Spotlight search box. Type in the flight number, which will give you the flight's current status and time of arrival. Alternatively, if someone sends you the flight number by iMessage, click the link that is automatically generated to bring up a map with the flight's current real-time location and estimated time of arrival.


How to track flights by using Spotlight search

track flight ios spotlight

Checking a flight status on an iPhone is a very easy and very fast thing to do. On the Home screen, swipe right. Then swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the Spotlight search box. Type in the flight number, and it should bring up a box with all pertinent details.

If it doesn’t show up in Spotlight, put the name of the airline before the actual flight number. That always works.

How to track flights in iMessage

If Granny sends you a flight number on iMessage, you can check from there to see if her plane will be landing on time. The flight number is automatically underlined with a link. Tap it.

track flight imessage

Now tap Preview Flight.

track flight imessage preview

This brings up a map showing the real-time location and direction of the plane, as well as relevant details, such as its estimated time of arrival, whether it’s on time or late, and the number of the baggage claim area, so you know where to meet them.

track flight ios map

The best apps for tracking flights on an iPhone


There are quite a few flight tracking apps for the iPhone. But although they are free to download, you need to buy a subscription to unlock all of the features on them. So unless you are a hardcore traveler and plane fanatic who needs something more than what the iPhone natively offers you, you should just stick with using Spotlight or iMessage.

But if you really want an app, here are the three that popped up on my radar (pun intended.)

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