Like anything else, travel apps come in a very wide range of quality and usefulness. It can be difficult to navigate just which ones are worthwhile and which ones are completely worthless. I have narrowed my favorite and most used travel apps into this top five list. I highly recommend each and every one of them based on legitimate personal experience.
This travel app is based on the juggernaut of all airfare search engines, ITA Matrix. I can’t even begin to touch on how beautiful of a software this is within one simple blog post–let alone a brief description of their app. Imagine this: the power of Google behind airfare searching. It gives you complete control over dates, arrival time, departure time, booking fare, price per mile, which airports to avoid, specific connection points, and more. The amount of detail you can search is ridiculous. It is like taking a fine tooth comb through every single possible fight option or combination available. You can not book through this software, but instead it gives you detailed insight into your own particular itinerary built entirely around your preferences. You then take that information and book it with your preferred airline directly, travel agent, or other source. When you run a standard search on a site like Kayak or Expedia, you are merely given the fastest and easiest search results. Sure, you can move the time bars a bit, but you do not have the level of control that you do with ITA. The travel app allows you to do this all from your mobile device and displays beautiful easy-to-read charts which gives you the most accurate information on the go and when you need it most. When I find myself in a jam, I use this software to direct airline agents at the airport on how to rebook me on another flight. It has saved me unnecessary pain and lost time just by having the ability to communicate in greater detail with gate agents. This app gives you more insight into airfare options than anything you have used in the past.
SeatGuru is a website and travel app that was purchased by TripAdvisor. The goal is to keep frequent fliers informed of their seat options aboard different aircraft by giving you advice based on other users’ firsthand experience. Once you have specific flight information, you run a search on SeatGuru using the airline, flight number, and departure date in order to find seat maps of the aircraft scheduled to operate that flight. Pretty handy when choosing between flights or even when you’re checking-in online. Most people ignore the aircraft information listed when purchasing a flight unless you’re an #AvGeek. Only true #AvGeeks would understand ;). However, noting that small detail can increase your comfort just by avoiding seats that can’t recline due to exit row or knowing that you’re going to have a smaller seat width in other areas of the aircraft.
Below is an example of American Airlines flight AA2437 departing from LGA to MIA on Saturday, July 12th. As you can see, Seat 14C is highlighted and a brief description of the seat quality is available for any curious passengers.
FlightAware is an incredibly powerful tool that provides pilot-caliber information to all of its users. Want to know why your plane is not at the gate yet? This travel app allows you to search all the previous flight routes of that inbound flight. Not only that–you can track its GPS location in real-time. Turns out your airplane is not on time because the inbound flight is diverting from its usual course due to lightning storms in Houston. It can do this because FlightAware is a global aviation software and data services company that provides detailed flight information for both private and commercial flights. Never travel without this! This travel app has saved me many panic attacks when I feared missing a connection simply because I was armed with information. What more could you possibly need than detailed maps, weather radar, flight status, inbound flights, altitude, or speed? Not a whole lot more–but FlightAware provides it all to you for free.
Now time for the relaxing aspect of airport travel. This app is for when you are simply looking for a comfortable place to rest or work away from the hustle and bustle. Loungebuddy is your best friend when it comes to seeking out your airport oasis. No more worrying about complex access rules to lounges. Instead, you create a brief profile in the app by inputting what elite statuses, lounge memberships, or travel rewards credit cards that you have. Once you do this, Loungebuddy now know which lounges you have access to. There is even a box to check if you are a US military member and Loungebuddy will display all USOs as well. As an example, your next trip is on United Airlines from SFO to ATL with a connection in ORD. You create a new trip by adding your itinerary details. Next you have the option to view all of the lounges in each of the three airports. From here, the travel app will display which lounges you have free access to, but you also have the ability to view all total airport lounges or those that are accessible to you (even with a fee). The great thing is that it does all of the work for you. No more memorizing rules and exceptions regarding your lounge access via credit cards, memberships, or elite access. Now, all you have to worry about is choosing which lounge is most suitable to your needs at the moment. Oh wait, Loungebuddy also helps with that too. Other users can leave basic reviews and ratings based on a 4 star system. Things like comfort, quality, cleanliness, service, or if the lounge is worth a detour are all a few review criteria.
Last, but certainly not least is AwardWallet. It is a free online service that keeps track of all of your rewards programs. That means every single point or mile you accrue gets monitored in a neat portfolio, kept updated, and you even receive alerts when your rewards are about to expire. This is not only limited to travel rewards like airline miles or hotel or rental car points. Credit cards and retail store rewards can also get tracked. Are you a VIB (Very Important Beauty) at Sephora? Then you bet that your status and points can be registered within AwardWallet as well. Over 633 loyalty programs are currently supported so that you do not have to waste precious time checking your point balances. You can even elect to receive weekly, monthly, etc. digest e-mails that report how your balances recently fluctuated. Needless to say, this travel app is a definite must for any serious (or seriously busy) frequent flyer.
I will also note that each and every single travel app I mentioned is absolutely free. Happy traveling!