Whether you’re a frequent business flyer who thinks multitasking is not strong enough a word or whether you’re a laid-back sort who flies twice a year for leisure, organizing a flight can be needlessly complicated. It doesn’t have to be that way in 2015, when half of all travelers carry smartphones.
Travel apps for smartphones and tablets are allowing customers to do much of the work that agents used to do. Read on and find an app for just about any travel need in 2015—from checking on your flight en route to the airport to uncovering the amenities in your airport lounge.
1. Flight Check-In
You could spend your time searching apps for individual airports. With Flight Check-In, you don’t have to.
The Flight Check-In app gives you direct access to the check-in page of all the major airlines in the United States, Canada and South America. You can customize your home screen to the airlines of your choice.
Another pro to this app: You need only type in your personal check-in information once. Passports and frequent flyer numbers can be safely stored and retrieved at future check-ins. In addition, the “Print Screen” feature lets you take a picture of the screen that contains your confirmation number, which you can save in your photo library. Flight Check-In also offers directories for most hotel and car rental providers, so you can book hotels conveniently.
Flight Itinerary Management App
Do you have trouble staying organized and remembering what’s on your itinerary when you travel? Use the free TripIt app for itinerary management free on iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone (pay $0.99 to go ad-free or $49 a year for a Pro option).
How it works: Forward your itinerary information (such as hotel, airline, car rental, restaurant confirmation emails) to firstname.lastname@example.org. TripIt takes your travel data and organizes it by date and time to create an instant itinerary. You can access your travel plans anytime on any device, even off-line. From the app or on the TripIt website, you can add or edit your travel plans. Here is a sample itinerary.
Beware: this app generates a huge amount of email from the date you sign up (every time TripIt adds an item to your itineraries, you’ll get an email). The good news: You can change the default to stop the confirmation emails by visiting TripIt.com (you can’t change the setting from the app).
Arrival, Departure and Flight Delay App
Want to view from your phone or tablet the arrivals and departures board for any airport in the world in real time? The FlightBoard app gives you information on flight statuses from over 3,000 airports and 1,400 airlines worldwide; updated every five minutes. Also use FlightBoard to help you plan when you’re going to pick someone else up at the airport. The attractive app design also pays homage to old world charm; the developers of FlightBoard were inspired by the board at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
4. FlightAware Flight Tracker
Started in 2005 as the first company to offer free flight tracking services for both private and commercial air traffic. A free download for iOS and Android, you can filter flights by airport and by airline or destination. FlightAware Flight Tracker may be more up to date than the airlines apps to get live flight tracking and flight statuses on both airline and GA flights. Check on flight status, gate/terminal information and changes, delays, cancellations, flight connections, and more.
Flight Tracking and Fun-Seeking App
Want to see live air traffic from around the world from your phone or tablet? Do you have a “thing” for airplanes and want to know what’s going on in the sky above? Get an inner captain fix with the major flight tracking app Flightradar24.
From your location, point your device at the sky (note, your device must be GPS-equipped). Click on planes and pull up flight and aircraft information (including information about route, estimated time of arrival, actual time of departure, speed, altitude, type of aircraft, and lots more). Search for individual flights using flight number, airport, or airline.
Language Translation App
6. Google Translate
In need of a translator during international travel? Get translations of conversations and text between 90 languages with Google Translate. It’s voice activated too, so you can ask a question in English and let the French person hear it in French. Google Translate also translates with your camera, keyboard, or handwriting.
In early 2015, Google Translate updated with a real-time conversation mode feature. Just select your two languages, introduce one of the speakers, and Google Translate will figure out the spoken language and begin to translate. No internet connection is needed. You can save and retrieve your translations from any device. Now available for iOS. Keep in mind that voice recognition is still not perfect, so speak slowly and clearly when using the voice-to-text feature.
Also watch for the latest update, Word Lens: Just point your camera at a sign or any text, and Word Lens will translate it into your language of choice. Remember: Word Lens is not perfect, so beware when pointing your camera at a sign.
Airport Lounge App
The LoungeBuddy app democratizes the airport lounge experience; if you seek VIP treatment during travel, VIP treatment can be yours in airport lounges around the world (with restrictions; see below). LoungeBuddy offers data for over 600 of the busiest and most popular airports in the world, with over 2000 lounges to browse. You can purchase lounge access in seconds with LoungeBuddy.
Available on iOS and Android platforms, and a free download, LoungeBuddy is your personal guide to what airport lounges are available. Get all airport lounge information in one handy place, from hours, locations, ratings, access requirements, and guest privileges, among other information, for each lounge. When you create a trip, you tell LoungeBuddy about any elite statuses, memberships, or premium credit cards; you’ll then be directed to lounges that you’re eligible to visit. You can filter lounges by amenity, see photos of lounges and read the reviews of LoungeBuddy travelers before your visit.
Airline Seats and Checked Bags App
SeatGuru says that they “want to make your travel more enjoyable by helping you find the best seat.” The SeatGuru app delivers, giving you comprehensive information on seating, from width, pitch, and comfort to cabin floor plans. Study over 700 of the most-searched seat maps for nearly 100 different airlines. Read user reviews and study color-coded seating maps and photos before you decide. The app even features a “Guru Factor,” which is a comfort rating system for smart airline seat shopping, from Love It, to Like It, to Live With It. But SeatGuru offers much more than which plane has the best seat. You can also browse over 800 aircraft by airline name and find corresponding information on everything from best air fares to bag checking fees to pet policies.
Airport-Specific Info, Flight Status, and Airport Food
9. GateGuru App
Need information on airport weather? Airport maps and tips to help you navigate an unfamiliar airport? Terminal and gate arrivals and departures? TSA security wait times? Info on airport food and amenities (with over 35,000 ratings and reviews)? GateGuru automatically adjusts itself for wherever you are in your trip. Input your itinerary, and GateGuru can sync with TripIt and other apps to help you navigate airports, anticipate wait times, find the freshest food, and improve your travel experience. One improvement the app could make: give airport maps a shortcut on the home screen.
Custom Limits App
10. Simply Declare
Tracking purchases while you travel abroad is a pain but a necessary evil in order to declare your items once you get home.
Well, thanks to the developers of the Simply Declare app, tracking purchases has become a lot easier. Tailored for world travelers, Simply Declare keeps track of your allowed duty-free quota.
Forget about currency converter apps—maybe even forget about pencils and paper. Simply Declare features a Quick Currency Converter and offers currency exchange for over 34 supported countries and over 160 world currencies. Real-time exchange rates are updated hourly. Simply Declare lets you deal with multiple currencies within one trip. Get itemized lists of your purchases, including date of purchase, name of store, and amount in your selected currency. Simply Declare will also photograph your receipts as a backup. In addition, you can export email receipts or lists to yourself for safe keeping.
Get Simply Declare and keep transactions organized and easy to transfer onto the declaration form at customs. Even if your head is in the clouds, thankfully your data will be safely backed up in the iCloud.
Simply Declare comes in either a free version or an ad-free version that costs $0.99.