Do you have an iPhone? Flighty is a must-have app for traveling this holiday season

Do you have an iPhone?  Flighty is a must-have app for traveling this holiday season

Fly on Dynamic Island on iPhone

The information available in Flighty’s extended Dynamic Island implementation.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

I recently started traveling for work again. I missed it. I missed seeing people I only communicate with online. I missed experiencing different parts of the country. I missed New York City (yes, I mean it). But one thing I didn’t miss was flying.

To be clear, I don’t mind flying. It goes well. But I don’t like the process of going to the airport, finding out what gate my flight is at, and worrying about whether or not my flight is on time. It’s a miserable experience.

For years I had used TripIt as a way to organize my travel plans. And with a TripIt Pro subscription, I received timely alerts about port changes or delays.

A few years ago I read about a new flight tracking app called Flighty. The app promised faster notifications and generally more information about your flight. I used the free trial shortly after launch to test it out and found it to be good enough. But I couldn’t justify paying for TripIt Pro and subscribing to Flighty Pro to unlock all the push notifications and other features, such as TripIt sync, that it provides.

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And yet, every time I booked a flight, I found myself paying for a monthly subscription to Flighty Pro and using it instead of TripIt for alerts.

Always on screen with Flighty on iPhone

Here’s what the live activity on the lock screen looks like on the iPhone 14 Pro’s Always On Display.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

When I started traveling again after covid, I felt bad about my travel routine. I found myself trying to remember which apps I used and for what. I even had to rethink what gadgets went in my bag.

I eventually went back to using Flighty, still paying for a month at a time. And then last week I took a trip to San Jose, California, where the Flighty experience convinced me to finally pay for a year-long subscription, and not just for me — for my whole family.

Reason? Flighty’s iOS 16.1 update with support for Live Activities on the lock screen and in iPhone 14‘s Dynamic Island put all the information I could want while traveling constantly on the screen, regardless of whether my phone was locked and set idle (Always-On Display for the win) or when I was actively using the phone thanks to Dynamic Island.

Here’s an example of the Flighty experience that starts a few hours before your scheduled flight and ends when you’ve landed and collected your luggage.

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A few hours before your scheduled flight, you will receive a notification telling you that the flight you will be flying on that day is on its way to the airport, along with whether or not it is on time. With a Pro subscription, you can actually see where your flight is 25 hours before your scheduled flight. It’s a useful bit of data that shows if your flight has been late on previous flights and sets expectations for your flight.

Great close-up on Dynamic Island on iPhone

Flighty displays just enough information on Dynamic Island to make it useful.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

As the flight approaches, a notification will appear on your lock screen and on Dynamic Island, providing a countdown to gate departure along with your gate number. When your incoming flight lands, you’ll get a notification. And then another notification when it arrives at the gate.

All the time, the most important information about your flight is available and can be seen on the lock screen.

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When you board the plane, Flighty doesn’t stop working. The alert remains active, showing you how much longer until the plane lands, and if you actually open the app instead of just using the alerts, you can see the exact flight plan your pilot submitted to the FAA and an estimate of where you are on that path . If you have in-flight Wi-Fi, the latest set of data will be even more accurate – but even in offline mode, Flighty does a good job of estimating flight position and time.

Flight information

Various examples of the information you will see available during a day.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Then, when you land, you’ll get a notification telling you how long it will take to taxi to the gate. I am not exaggerating with this next statement. I received an alert that my plane had landed within seconds of the wheels touching down when my plane landed in Denver on my last trip; that’s how fast Flighty’s alerts can be.

You should also receive baggage claim information in another notification, but on my last two flights that information was never populated in the app.

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The whole experience is a good example of how a developer should look at and use live activities and Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 series. In fact, it wasn’t until Flighty added support for these features that I was finally convinced it was time to go all in and sign up for a $90-a-year family plan. That way, when I travel, I can share my plans with my wife and kids and they can follow my journey as closely as they want. Or, when we travel as a family, we’re all on the same page – especially when it comes to the dreaded, “How long until we land?!”

You don’t need to sign up for the Pro plan to use Flighty. Your first ride in the app is free, complete with all the push notifications and extra data I haven’t even touched on (like the percentage of time a flight is late and for how long). You can even use it to track a random flight while sitting at your desk, just to get a feel for how the app works and what to expect when you travel.

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