App of the Week: Four Apps to Ease Your Summer Airline Travel

Categories: Tech

sleep-airport.jpg
Use these apps to help you survive summer travel and keep your face intact.
App: FlightTrack
Platforms: iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm
Web site: Mobiata.com
Cost: $3.99 (Pro for $9.99)

App: FlightBoard
Platforms: iPhone, Android
Web site: Mobiata.com
Cost: $3.99

App: Skyscanner
Platforms: iPhone (Web site available as well)
Web site: Skyscanner.com
Cost: Free

App: Hipmunk
Platforms: iPhone (Web site available as well)
Web site: Hipmunk.com
Cost: Free

I haven't been on an airplane in about 15 years. Crazy, right? Some of this was due to a fear of flying. Some was just the fact that I was growing a business and chose vacations closer to home -- much closer, as in my backyard. Well, my streak is soon going to end. I've been invited to a wedding at the end of the summer in Cancun and I'll be re-earning my wings.

Since many people choose to travel over the summer and a lot of them fly, I thought this might be a good time to discuss a few apps designed to help make your trip to and from the airport a bit easier. And, hey, if it helps me in the process, all the better!

flighttrack.jpg
Altitude, speed, distance, weather -- FlightTrack's map has it all.
First up is FlightTrack by Mobiata, a company that makes a number of travel apps of which this is far and away the best. I purchased this app last year to help me deliver friends to and from the airport easily and I've come to love it. FlightTrack is a real-time flight tracking software that provides incredibly detailed and accurate flight information for any flight, anywhere.

Track a flight with details down to seat configuration, real-time mapping with weather radar to show potential areas of turbulence or delay, set push alerts or set a repeating flight if you travel on the same route for business often. Spend an extra five bucks and import flight information from itinerary services, view terminal maps of airports and check the weather reports from across the globe.

The mapping technology alone is worth the cost. I've found it to be amazingly accurate even to the point where I can guess which plane is most likely the flight I'm tracking while it is landing. The details -- how fast the plane is traveling, how far it has gone and how far it has left (time and distance), the plane's altitude -- are not only interesting but really helpful. In short, it is a must-have if you travel a lot or help others get to and from the airport.

While we're talking about Mobiata, another four-dollar app from them that is extremely helpful when trying to make a flight is FlightBoard. Just tap the airport button in the app, and a real-time list of arrivals and departures complete with airline, flight number, destination or origination, gate number and arrival or departure time appears, looking a lot like an old-school airport ticker.

Tap any flight and get a list of sharing options including e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and SMS. Even better, tap the FlightTrack icon and switch over to that app to use its functionality for any flight.

Before you board, however, you need to purchase tickets and that means finding the best fare possible. There are an endless number of Web sites that can help you with that process, but two really easy-to-use Web sites that also have companion apps are Skyscanner and Hipmunk.

Skyscanner has the best app interface for searching. It quickly checks your location and gives you airport options. It utilizes the iPhone technology well and is the quickest search. Once you've found the flight you like, just tap it and there are a bunch of options for booking a given flight. It's fast and it's damn easy.

Hipmunk's no-nonsense approach on its Web site (my favorite place to go when I want to quickly search for fares) is reflected in the layout of the app, but it is somewhat less intuitive than Skyscanner and has fewer overall options. Still, the elegant grid layout of potential flights along with their own "agony" metric (it ranks flights by combining price, duration and number of stops) makes it a great helper app.

It should be noted that in every search, while I found plenty of listings for flights with reasonable rates, when I checked the actual airline Web site, fares were nearly always cheaper. Veteran travelers already know this, but it doesn't mean apps to help sort through the mess of booking aren't handy all the same.

Like virtually every industry, there is no single app that covers all aspects of travel perfectly. I tend to believe that the apps that focus in on specific needs often provide the best options, and this is certainly true in the case of these helpful flight apps. When you are traveling this summer and you are using these apps to help you book flights and manage the hassle of travel, remember that I was the one that helped you and feel free to send some frequent flier miles my direction.

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4 comments
cheap aircanada
cheap aircanada

It is often cheaper travelers to choose the destination of a large number of the airline's service. The blog is really informative and keep posting often.

Ross
Ross

Hi Jeff,

Great blog, I've used all of these at some point or other, I'm also a big fan of the hipmunk layout I'mg lad you found the Skyscanner app useful, it's one we worked on at Kotikan and spent a long time on the user-interface to make it as fast and simple as possible.

It's a shame you found cheaper fares elsewhere but Skyscanner doesn't charge commission and always gives you the price of flights including all the unavoidable extra costs so there shouldn't be any nasty surprises at the booking stage.

Looking forward to your next top apps!

Ross

club villamar
club villamar

Thanks for sharing this informative applications with us...These applications seems to be really a helpful one in airline travel....I will give you back the reviews of these applications later,after using them...

Patrice Arnera
Patrice Arnera

Hi There,

I travel around the World at least once month from Wellington, New Zealand and am constantly prone to delayed or cancelled flights and my business contacts and family are constantly trying to understand when I am landing so that they can reach me.

I have therefore created an iPhone and iPad application that gives live departures and arrivals information for any flights at any given airport around the World. You can find an overview of the application at http://www.3dot5.net/blog/worl....

I have also created a USA specific application for live flight tracking for any flights in the US, from the US or US bound. Every single US airport is represented ;)http://www.3dot5.net/blog/airp...

There is also a draw to win an ipad everytime a milestone of 10,000 download of the iPhone version is reached on the AppStore, more information can be found on: http://www.3dot5.net/blog/win-...

And a draw to win an iPhone 4 everytime a milestone of 10,000 download of the iPad version is reached on the AppStore, more information can be found on: http://www.3dot5.net/blog/win-...

And for the Rugby fans, check out Rugby 2011 for a complete guide to the World Cup in New Zealand including live scores and rankings and while we wait 6 nations and Super 15 scores and rankings ;) http://www.3dot5.net/blog/rugb...

Cheers,

Patrice

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