Flighty update brings live flight tracking data to your iPhone, even when you’re in Airplane Mode


The flight tracking app Flighty has been one of the top implementations yet of Apple’s new Live Activities feature in iOS 16 and the iPhone 14 Pro. A new update rolling out this week, just in time for holiday travel, adds a clever new trick for updating your flight progress with real data even when you’re in the air.

Live Activity support is available for all iPhone models running iOS 16.1 or later on the Lock Screen. iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max users get an added treat, with Live Activities also appearing inside the Dynamic Island. You can also long-press on the Dynamic Island to interact directly with the Live Activity.

In Flighty’s case, a Live Activity for your upcoming flight automatically begins three hours before departure. This means you can easily follow along with your flight status, including delays and gate changes, from the Lock Screen and in the Dynamic Island. All of the same data is also available in the app itself, alongside much more.

In the past, Flighty has worked even when offline and in the air on a flight, but by using estimated data instead of live data. If you paid for full in-flight Wi-Fi access, however, the app could fetch live data as well.

With a new update this week, Flighty has a trick up its sleeve: it can download real and live data using free in-flight Wi-Fi, even when your iPhone is in Airplane Mode. This means you don’t have to pay for premium Wi-Fi on your flight. “Get live data even in Airplane Mode: Simply connect to the free ‘messaging only WiFi’ on most major airlines.”

Flighty’s Ryan Jones explained how this works on Twitter. Essentially, the free Wi-Fi on most airlines (in the United States) allows for free iMessage. Live Activities in iOS 16.1 are updated using the same protocol as iMessage. Therefore, Flighty can update the Live Activity using that free airline Wi-Fi. Then, the data can be passed to the full Flighty app as well.

In the United States, the following airlines allow for free messaging via free Wi-Fi onboard: JetBlue, Delta, Alaska, Southwest, and United. This is a pretty clever workaround.

Also: Flighty is making the “Flighty Pro” subscription free for November 22 and November 23, two of the biggest travel days of the year. Check the app out on the App Store to learn more.

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