Air travel is a key part of many vacations, but the lines, delays and crowds can make it less than perfect.

The good news is that technology is available to ease your journey.

A simple text prompt, Google search or phone app can help you avoid the problems that cause many common difficulties.

Check flight status with your phone

This first text tip is the simplest, yet the most mind-blowing. Anyone using an iPhone can easily find out flight information by tapping on a flight number in Messages.

That’s right, there’s no need to open an airline’s app, just text yourself the airline name plus the word “flight” and the flight number. Then tap on that number to see flight information at a glance.

When you click, a map pops up showing where the plane is in real time. You can see whether the flight is on time, its arrival gate and how to get to baggage claim.

This smartphone trick is especially helpful when you need to stay in touch with your ride home from the airport. Whether your family member is doing you a solid, or a ride-sharing driver is headed your way, texting the flight number is a simple way to get them all the information they need.

This flight tracking service works for iOS, even if the text is coming from an Android phone. But the feature does not work if an Android phone is the receiver.

Use AI to create travel plans

In the past, I’ve relied on Frommers or Fodors to give me an initial itinerary for any location I plan to visit. Now, artificial intelligence can help me plan upcoming trips.

To use this travel tip, turn on Google’s generative AI capabilities in Search Labs by clicking on the lab beaker in the upper left-hand corner of the Google app’s homepage. Then, ask something like, “plan a two-day trip to Boston” to get a specific itinerary, including where to visit and eat, as well as hotel and flight recommendations.

The AI-generated schedule will be a jumping off point that you can fine-tune the schedule with your own ideas.

I tried something similar on Chat GPT and was underwhelmed with its specificity. Google’s AI did a much better job at giving me a fairly robust travel plan.

Using PreCheck and Global Entry

For years, I’ve been pushing the advantages of TSA PreCheck for anyone who flies more than a few times per year.

After you enroll, you get to use a shorter security line and don’t need to remove shoes or belts. You can also leave your laptop inside your bag.

The online application process takes five minutes. After you complete the form, you’ll need to appear in person for about 10 minutes at one of their sites.

And now, those with digital driver’s license IDs are getting even more perks at airport security. Chicago O’Hare and Los Angeles International are no longer asking to see a driver’s license for travelers who have both TSA PreCheck and a digital driver’s license. You get your face scanned, but since it compares that photo with your digital ID, you don’t need to show or insert a physical driver’s license anywhere.

If you fly internationally four or more times each year, you may want to opt for Global Entry, which grants expedited customs screening for travelers returning to the U.S.

TSA PreCheck comes as part of Global Entry, which costs $100 right now for five years (that price goes up to $120 in October). Some credit cards and frequent flyer programs will reimburse these fees.

But if you don’t go for Global Entry, be aware of this little-known app that could save you time at customs. The Mobile Passport Control app has you submit a photo, customs declaration and passport to streamline your return to the U.S. at some airports.

Create a profile with your passport, then once you land in the US, take a selfie, complete some questions and bring your passport to a Customs and Border Patrol officer. You can add up to 12 profiles on the app for family members.