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I was today years old when I learned iPhone’s iMessage app has an insanely useful flight tracking preview function. Here’s how it works: Read your flight number off of your boarding pass (which you can send to your iPhone’s Apple Wallet instead of printing), type it in to a text message. Then send it to yourself. This has to be the travel hack of the year.

Note: included both your flight number and your airline code. So for American Airlines flight 6190, just “6190” won’t cut it. But AA6190 will.

At any point, you can open iMessage and click on the number and select “Preview Flight” for your flight information. This information includes:

  • Departure time
  • Projected arrival time
  • Departure terminal and gate
  • Arrival terminal and gate
  • Baggage claim number
  • A map of where in the sky your plane currently is!

Besides being just plain cool, this feature is insanely useful. All of this information may change throughout the day. Instead of stumbling off your connecting flight and searching for the nearest airport screen to tell you your new gate, you can just click on this link and find out where to go. Same thing for your baggage claim.

Another awesome life hack is to forward this text to whoever is picking you up at the airport. They can check it to see if your landing time has changed and plan their trip to the airport. If they’re like my family, they might even use it for realtime updates on your plane’s location just for fun. Here’s how the preview looks:

Screenshot of an iMessage flight information feature on a mac computer.
iMessage “Preview Flight” feature | Henry Cesari via MotorBiscuit

This travel hack was originally revealed on TikTok by a user named Darby. She claims she was taught this trick by a former airline employee and has been using it for seven years. Man I was missing out! Her video has racked up over two million likes, you can see it embedded below:


S/O @Brooke Webster for teaching me this in my bag loading days 7 years ago

♬ original sound – Darby