Unless you’re a die hard fan of avoiding planes, most of us have to board at least one plane (and usually many more) when we travel. Unfortunately, the modern flying experience isn’t usually convenient or all that fun, but there are several apps out there to help ease our travel woes and make flying a lot easier and even fun. Here are my five favorite apps every jet-setter should download.
1. TripIt – This app is on almost every app list I write and with good reason, it is an integral part of my travel experience. Everyone hopes to leave the stress of daily life at home when they travel. Being organized is essential, and can help save time and money. Before TripIt, I used to print out all of my various confirmation emails and staple them inside a manila folder. So 1998, right? A reader recommended TripIt, and without exaggeration it has transformed my travel experience and probably saved a small forest in the process. Simply put, TripIt organizes all of your travel information for you and generates complete itineraries easily accessed through your mobile device. You can input the information manually if you want, but it’s so much easier (and cooler) to have them do it for you. All you do is forward your confirmation emails to them and within seconds, a complete itinerary is “automagically” generated and posted in your TripIt account. I am endlessly fascinated by technology and this app really amazes me.
2. GateGuru – An all-in-one app that makes navigating airports a breeze. Users can find the closest amenities at hundreds of airports around the world. Maps and category lists make it easy to find restaurants, shops and lounges instead of aimlessly wandering through the airport and is especially useful when you only have a few minutes to spare. There’s also a function that theoretically provides estimated security wait times. The inherent problem with the reliability of this feature is the dependency on the participation of other users, so the information may not be up to date. One of the best features is that you can link to other networks such as your TripIt account. This one app can tell me everything I need to know about my flights and what I can find in the airport around me. What’s not to love?
3. SeatGuru – I have long depended on the SeatGuru website for great advice on selecting seat assignments when booking a flight. The biggest problem I’ve had is that their site was not at all mobile friendly and just resulted in a lot of frustration. That’s why I’m thrilled that they have finally released a mobile app, and a great one at that. Through the app you can research seats based on flight number so you can make sure you aren’t sitting next to a lavatory or in a seat that doesn’t recline. I never book a flight without first consulting SeatGuru. You can also search for flights and check their status, but the real star of this app is the seat advice. You can’t call yourself a jet-setter if you don’t have this app.
4. Flight Aware – This is the app for the aviation geek in all of us. Yes, the app does the usual and tracks any flight you want by flight number, tail number or city of origin. You can also save favorites so you can see whether or not your flight is on time or running late. It also allows you to check real time airport delays around the world. The coolest feature though is the ability to view air traffic around any airport in the world. You can see all inbound and outbound flights superimposed on a map. I could spend hours looking at flights around the world, seeing who is busy and who isn’t. Yes, Flight Aware is a useful app for people who fly a lot, but it’s also a lot of fun to play around with for anyone with an interest in commercial aviation.
5. JetSetter – Well I couldn’t do a list of my favorite jet-setter apps without including the ultimate, JetSetter itself. Jetsetter.com is a members-only travel site that offers great deals on high-end hotels and vacations; imagine Living Social or Groupon for the luxury traveler. The deals are usually pretty incredible, especially for the properties featured. The app, which looks great on the iPad as well, brings to life their featured deals and isn’t just a great way to get some bargains, it’s great for travel inspiration and dreaming too. 360-degree immersive panoramic images are a feast for the senses in the best form of travel porn I can think of. Even if you don’t buy any of their deals, this app is well worth having while you’re killing time in an airport.
What are some of your favorite flying related apps?