As someone who frequently travels, I spend plenty
of time on airplanes. Thankfully, I can use my Microsoft Surface tablet to either get things done
while I’m in the air, or I can use it as an entertainment device. This article
lists five apps that I like to use when I fly. All of the apps listed here can be found in the

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

1. Business Trip

The Business Trip app is designed to help
you to stay organized while on business trips. The app lets you define a series
of trips, so that you can keep track of which trip is coming up next and where
you have been recently (Figure A). It costs $2.99 (USD), but a free trial is available for download.

Figure A



Business Trip lets you organize your flight plans.

The app allows you to store information
such as flight and hotel details for each trip. You can also add expenses, such
as meals and entertainment, to a trip. When you’re done, the app can build an
expense report based on the information that you’ve provided. There’s even
an option to export the data to an Excel spreadsheet (Figure B), and the app keeps the
spreadsheet associated with the trip.

Figure B



You can export the data to an Excel spreadsheet.

2. AirHockey

I actually have several games installed on my Windows 8
laptop and on my Surface tablet. The reason why I chose to mention AirHockey
is because, unlike my other games, this one allows for two players. I’ve found
that it’s great for those times when I’m flying with my wife and I want to
play a game but don’t want to ignore her. AirHockey is set up in a way that
allows us to play head-to-head (Figure C). We are both fiercely competitive and have a lot
of fun playing AirHockey on a long flight.

Figure C



AirHockey allows you to select one or two players.

In case you’re wondering, AirHockey does offer a single
player mode that allows you to play against the computer. Best of all, the game
is free. Like many free games, AirHockey contains ads (Figure D), but you can upgrade
to an ad-free version.

Figure D



AirHockey game play in action.

3. FlightAware

FlightAware is an app that I find myself using very
frequently. The application is designed to let you track flights. You can look
up a flight by route, flight number, tail number, etc (Figure E).

Figure E



With FlightAware, you can look up flights by various parameters.

One of the perils of flying is that sometimes flights run
late. A delayed flight can be especially problematic if you have to catch a
connection. If I’m on a flight that’s arriving late and I have a connection
to catch, then as soon as the plane lands (and it is safe to use cell service),
I’ll use FlightAware to look up my connection. By doing so, I can find out how
much time I have to catch the connection and what gate it’s leaving out of.
If I’ve already missed the connection, I can use FlightAware to find out what
other options exist for getting to my destination (Figure F).

Figure F



FlightAware provides a detailed look at flights.

4. Kindle

Sometimes, a long flight can be the perfect excuse to
catch up on your reading. Of course, most people probably don’t want to weigh
down their carry on with a stack of books. Thanks to Amazon’s Kindle app, you don’t have to (Figure G).

Figure G



The Kindle app.

A few years back, the Amazon Kindle was arguably the
e-reader of choice. Over time, of course, dedicated e-readers have given way to
full-blown tablets. Not to be outdone, Amazon offers a free Kindle app for all
the most popular tablets. This app makes
it easy to take your book collection with you when you travel (Figure H).

Figure H



You can take your book collection mobile with the Kindle app.

5. Metro Media Player

I have to admit that, when I fly, I usually spend most of
my time in the air watching movies. I almost never get a chance to watch movies
or television at home, so before I travel, I load up my tablet with digital
copies of the movies that I want to see. There are plenty of apps available for viewing digital
media. One free option for Windows devices is called Metro Media Player. This app plays both music and videos.

Figure I



The Metro Media Player.

I’ll be the first to admit that Metro Media Player
isn’t as feature rich as some of the other media players that are available,
but that’s actually what I like about it. This media player is light weight and doesn’t overwhelm you with a bunch of unnecessary features (Figure J), which is a good
thing when all you want to do is to watch a movie on the flight home after a
long day. 

Figure J



You can access your video and audio files with Metro Media Player.

What apps do you use and recommend for traveling? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.