Some days, I feel like I live at the airport. Between speaking engagements, consulting projects, vacations, and weekend getaways, I am constantly on the go. One of the things I have found during my travels is that a number of mobile apps can make dealing with airport chaos a lot easier.
Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.
1: SkyscannerWhen a flight gets canceled, you might find yourself scrambling to find an alternate flight. This is where Skyscanner (Figure A) comes into play. Skyscanner, available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone, is designed to help you to find airline tickets based on your search criteria. The thing that makes Skyscanner unique is the fact that the interface shows you how the price changes as you pick alternate flights or travel dates. The interface takes a little bit of getting used to, but ultimately it does a good job of helping you to find the flight you want at the price you want.
2: FlightPredictorOne of the sad facts of life is that every day, numerous flights are delayed or canceled. FlightPredictor (Figure B) helps predict whether your flight will be on time. The software considers a number of factors, including the flight's statistical record and delays at other airports. It's available for WebOS devices, Windows Phone, and Android.
As cool as flight status prediction is, my favorite feature is the collection of airport maps. The app contains maps of many of the major airports. These maps show everything from gate location to airport restaurants.
3: Flight StatusFlight Status (Figure C) is a simple yet useful app for Windows Phone 7 devices. It provides status information for your flight, including departure and arrival times and gate information. It even features a live tile that displays real-time flight information on your device's start screen.
4: Car LocatorI travel almost constantly and I have to admit that sometimes finding my car after a trip can be a challenge. It isn't so much that I am forgetful. But when you travel so frequently, all the trips start blurring together. I often find myself wondering whether I parked my car in Long Term 1 or if that was the trip before. This is where the Car Locator (Figure D) app comes into play. This handy Windows Phone 7 app lets you mark your car's GPS location and then guides you back to your car after your trip.
You might be able to get through life without needing to know the codes for the various airports, but having an airport code list available can be handy. For example, when you check a bag, the airlines tag the bag. This tag usually has a barcode and an airport code. A quick check of the airport code can help to ensure that the airline is sending your bag to the correct city.Airport Codes (Figure E) is a free app that lets you look up codes for airports around the world. It also maps the airport's location. I use the Windows Phone 7 version, but similar apps are available for iPhone and other mobile platforms. Figure E
Bonus: My Charlotte Mobile AppI'll be the first to admit that My Charlotte Mobile App (Figure F) is a niche app —useful only to those who fly in or out of Charlotte, NC, on a regular basis. Even so, I wanted to include it in my list as a bonus because it is so useful — and because other cities offer similar apps. Even though I live in South Carolina, Charlotte is the closest airport. The My Charlotte app provides crucial information about the airport and other services.
My Charlotte Mobile App
My favorite thing about this app is that it provides real-time parking status information. It reports which lots are open, which lots are closed, and which lots have relatively few parking spaces left. It also includes an airport delay map that shows which of the nation's major airports are experiencing delays. And I absolutely love that the app includes traffic and weather information so that I know what I'm in for on the trip home from the airport.
Other good airport apps?
What mobile apps to you rely on when you travel by air? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.
Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.