This iPhone travel hack lets you track your flights in real time

Main points

  • iOS has a hidden feature called “Preview Flight” that can be used to quickly update flight status.
  • Access preview flights by texting yourself the airline code and flight number.
  • Use Spotlight search on iPhone to quickly get flight data, including gate information and airport maps.
  • You can also text flight information to yourself and access preview flights in messages.

Few things make your trip as smooth sailing as running to the boarding area only to find your gate number has changed. But a former airline employee’s viral TikTok has uncovered a hidden iOS feature that quickly provides flight status without downloading a separate app. The feature, called Preview Flight, is hidden in the native iOS app as a quick hack to transfer all the information from the boarding screen to your iPhone screen – but what is it and how does it work?


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The feature isn’t new, but its location is hidden, making it a relatively unknown hack. Preview flight hacks are getting new recognition thanks to a video from TikTok user Darby Maloney Durbinmalonster, in which she shares her favorite flight hacks for quickly checking flight updates on her iPhone. In the video, she explains how she can easily access travel data by simply texting herself a flight number. However, while the video focuses on Flight Tracker in Messages, iPhone users can also access the tool using a simpler option: the search bar.

While there are many apps designed specifically for flight tracking, Preview Flight is integrated into iOS, meaning no additional apps are needed. In fact, there are several ways to check flight status on your iPhone, but perhaps none as quick or easy. In addition to gates and departure times, you can click shortcuts to view airport maps and even download airport maps for offline use, allowing you to view your landing airport while flying. If you know your airline code and flight number, it only takes a few seconds to access this information. That’s it.


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Pull down your iPhone’s home screen and enter your flight number

Screenshot of flight preview on iPhone

Use Apple’s Spotlight search to quickly find flight data in just seconds. All you need is an iPhone and your flight number with the airline code. Alternatively, this method also works with the Spotlight search tool on your iPad or Mac. That’s it.

  1. Turn on spotlight search. On iPhone, swipe down from the middle of the home screen to pull up the search bar (avoid swiping from the top or you’ll access notifications). You may also find a search icon above the Dock on your home screen, which contains essential apps like Phone, Email, Safari, and SMS.
  2. Enter airline identifier Next is the flight number. For example, United Airlines flight 341 would be UA341.
  3. Click on the blue flight data result Next to the airline icon – This usually appears at the top of search results.
  4. On this screen, you can now view important flight data, including departure and arrival times, the terminal and gate you’re traveling to, and even the baggage claim area where to find your luggage after landing. At the bottom of the screen you’ll find shortcuts to airline webpages and one-click access to view or download maps of airport terminals in Maps.
  5. iOS saves your search results, so when you need to check if your flight is on time or if your gate has changed, just pull down from the middle of the home screen again Click on flight number Listed in your recent searches for quick access.


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How to track a flight in Messages or Mail

How to Track Flights on iPhone Preview Flight Spotlight 002

Text your flight number to a friend and they can click on the link to easily see if their flight is delayed – a useful tool when a friend picks you up from the airport. However, you can also enter the number yourself for quick access. This also works with email, so you can also send yourself the same message, open the email, and click the link, just like a text message.

  1. Open Messaging app and start a new text yourself. (Yes, you can text yourself; just enter your name or phone number in a new text message.) Or, start a new text message e-mail.
  2. Send yourself a text message airline identifier Next is flight number. For example, United Airlines flight 341 would be UA341. Alternatively, you can send via email.Both options will create a association.beat send.
  3. iOS will automatically convert the flight number to on that association.
  4. Tap”Preview flight” from the pop-up menu.
  5. That’s it – you’ll see now flight dataincluding whether your flight is delayed, where the gate is, where the plane is on the route, where to find your luggage, and quick links to airport maps.


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Google flights search page


Q: Can I track flights on Android?

The Preview Flight tool detailed above is a tool available for Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, and Mac. If you want to quickly save a flight on your Android device, enter the airline identifier and flight number into Google Search. Google will display similar information cards with flight details, including whether the flight is on time. You can copy and paste this link into a text message, or just leave the Google page open and hit refresh when you need to double-check the status.

Q: Is there a way to track flights?

There are many different ways to track flights. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of downloading an app, you can simply use the iOS Preview Flight tool detailed above. Or, enter your flight number into Google to use Google Flights to quickly see if your flight is on time.

What other travel tips are hidden on iOS?

Other relatively hidden iPhone travel hacks include saving your boarding pass to Apple Wallet. Additionally, Apple Maps provides walking directions within major airports, not just driving directions there.

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