Travel Resources Series: Part 4 – Flight Tracking & At The Airport Apps & Websites [2017]

Hello fellow travelers!

We’re back with the fourth post in our Upgraded Points series on travel resources. This time we’re pretty much piggybacking on our last post (Organization) to bring you information related to tracking flights, plus resources that can be helpful while you’re in transit to, arriving at, or maneuvering through the airport.

Imagine this: It’s 4:00 am, and you arrive at the airport the required 2 hours before your 6:00 am flight… “Where the heck can you get a cup of coffee this early?

Or, how do you get from security to that great little gelato place in Terminal 2?

Ugh, your flight’s been pushed back again…is there a lounge nearby?

Hmmm…is that TSA app really worth it?

We’re answering all these questions and more, plus a few you probably didn’t even know you had. Read on friends – we hope you find a resource you’re excited to try out!


 

(FREE)

parking reservations

The title of this resource is pretty self explanatory!

Airport Parking Reservations claims up to 70% off compared to on-airport parking while saving you time and stress.

With parking at 150 airports in over 450 lots nationwide, more than 3 million reservations made, and generally great reviews (4.5 stars in the App Store and over 3,700 reviews with a 9.3/10 on Trustpilot), this company seems to live up to the hype.

AirportParkingReservations.com doesn’t own or operate any lots; they are essentially a middleman, allowing users to compare lots and shop reservations at discounted rates. They also provide free shuttles to/from the airport.

Oh, and no cancellation fees… can’t really go wrong here!


($4.99)

ground transportation assistance

The Airport Transit Guide by Saulk International has been around in print for years but finally went digital in 2010.

This guide aims to save travelers time and money by sorting through options for ground transportation from over 460 airports worldwide.

The ATG includes all forms of transport like busses, limos, rental cars, shuttles, taxis, trains, etc.

Users also have access to information like tipping guides and general safety precautions. No wi-fi or data connection is needed to access this information since you can get it all offline.

Updates come out regularly when the material requires a refresh.


(FREE; monthly, yearly, & lifetime options + in-app purchases vary by region ($0.99-$49.99))

flight tracker/airport guide/partial itinerary management

App In The Air promotes itself as a personal flight assistant.

The app itself is slick – very visually appealing and ultra user-friendly. There are 4 main components:

Tracking Flights: This section is split into check-in, boarding, takeoff, and landing, all displayed in a clear vertical timeline. SMS alerts are sent if any aspect of the timeline changes (even if you’re out of the country without internet).

You also get reminders about when check-in and boarding open/close, which is really handy if you’re grabbing a bite to eat at the local airport Chili’s! Alternatively, you can opt for auto-check in.*While flying, the timeline allows you to see the remaining time until landing and there’s a map view to see exactly where your flight is in the air. (Yes, it works even on “airplane mode!”)

Exploring Airports: Here you’ll find tons of useful information like weather, terminal maps, and general airport wait times for check-in, security, and passport control. You also get terminal search (think: “coffee” with results for all coffee shops in the terminal), and fellow traveler tips that include helpful hints like where you can find outlets, free wifi or wifi passwords, the best sandwiches, etc.

Keeping Records: Though not 100% necessary, this is a fun way for frequent travelers to keep tabs on their personal travel statistics. Create a profile and input trip information to receive statistics like how many flights you’ve taken, hours/miles flown, airports visited, etc. Users can also earn badges based on travels and see their numeric ranking on a leaderboard of other users. There’s also a map feature visualizing your trips, which is pretty awesome.

Organizing Flights: This app works best when all of your travel info is provided. There are currently a number of ways to do this. Users can connect their e-mail to the app for auto-import,  forward their e-tickets to myflights@appintheair.mobi, link up with their TripIt account or Wallet (Passbook) if using an iPhone, or lastly, input the information manually. Flight information is then listed in an easy-to-navigate timeline.

Word to the Wise:  Of course, while you can try them for free during the trial period, the best features like automatic check in, alerts, etc. are only available if you opt for the subscription.


(FREE; ad removal $2.99)

flight tracker/airport guide/crowdsourcing

Calling itself The Social Air Travel Guide, Fleet encourages users to interact via the app throughout the travel process, from pre-airport highway traffic to baggage claim.

Input your flight and you can track check-in time, security congestion, and flight/baggage delays.

Some information is pulled from the Flight Stats platform, but Fleet mainly relies on crowdsourcing.

If a user finds him/herself delayed, the app incorporates more than 30 U.S. and international airport directories to inspire ways to pass the time. Like any crowdsourcing platform, the app will improve as more people download and use it.

Plus, it won a design competition, so it has a very tidy and inviting interface. No Android option yet, but Fleet claims to be working quickly to provide one.

Hot Tip: Fleet was built to encompass the whole airport experience, so it’s best for users who want to interact with an app in real-time while navigating the perils of airline travel.


(FREE; ad removal $2.99)

flight tracker

FlightAware is unique in that it not only tracks commercial airline flights, but also private/chartered flights in the U.S. and Canada.

While the interface is pretty basic, it gets the job done and a lot of users prefer it that way.

For most, the flight map is the best part of the app: it tracks a flight’s journey and trajectory offering overlays like weather radar. Users can also opt to view all flights in the nearby vicinity (we’re swooning over here!). You can set up alerts for arrival/departure times, gate changes, cancellations, delays, or diversions, and share travel details with friends/family.

If you’re inclined to get on their website, they have a number of neat extras.

Our favorite is The Misery Map: a great visual presentation of all U.S. flight delays/cancellations by airport. Another unique one is Squawks, which complies flight- and aviation-centered news articles, photos, videos, etc.


THE FlightBoard APP HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED

(FREE)

mobile arrivals/departures board

Some people just want a simple flight board, like the one you can stare at in the airport.

This app has no fluff, no messy bells and whistles, just information. With over 16,000 airports and 1,400 airlines, it’s pretty darned comprehensive too. Select the airport you want to check and ta-da! Plus, it’s updated every minute – how’s that for accurate?

Just tap Flight+ to open up flight tracking info for any flight on the board.


($3.99; in-app purchases $1.99-$4.99)

air traffic radar/flight tracker

FlightRadar24 is a website/app that provides live air traffic information.

Ever wondered just how many planes are in the sky at any given moment?

Open the website or map view in the app and you’ll find out in real-time. You can filter by airline, aircraft, altitude, speed, etc., which is so cool! AND, you can click a specific plane if you want individual flight info like route, departure/arrival time, aircraft type, speed, altitude, etc.

Alternatively, you can click an airport for information like weather conditions and delays.

Another phenomenal feature?

With the app open, users can identify any plane flying overhead by simply pointing their phone at the sky. Yes, really!

Lastly (as if you need another reason to buy this app), you can pick a plane, tap the 3D tab, and experience views from the cockpit, just like the pilot. It’s alright, you can fangirl now… we won’t tell!


(FREE; ad removal $1.99)

flight tracker/airport guide/statistics

FlightStats is yet another website/app built to assist with flight and airport tracking.

The app has 3 basic sections: Flights, Airports, and My Flights.

In the Flights section, users can track flight status by flight number, airport, or route.

Once a flight is chosen, the app presents an overview with all pertinent information including departure times, terminals, gate numbers, and a delay index for the airport.

FlightStats goes into detail by allowing users to not only see when the flight is expected to pull back from the gate, but also when it’s scheduled to take-off from the runway. Furthermore, users can look into the back-end timeline of changes (including gate changes, delays, tail number changes, etc). Selecting “track this flight” opens a map view with real-time flight tracking; the visuals are a bit fancier on this app.

Within the Airport section, users can look up information on airports including current delay index with delay trends and current weather.

My Flights saves any flight you’ve searched for and selected. On the website itself, you can sign up for a monthly newsletter, view stats on global cancellations and delays, and even review airline and airport performance reports.


(FREE)

airport guide

FlySmart is basically a comprehensive airport guide that encourages users to be airport insiders.

Users are provided with essential airport information related to food/drink, shopping, airport services, airlines, directions to/from the airport, and parking/ground transportation information.

Additionally, FlySmart offers general info relating to the airport itself (history, weather, location, etc) and sometimes gives options for hotels in the general vicinity.

This app isn’t our favorite (we prefer GateGuru) but can be useful in some situations.

Word to the Wise: FlySmart has had a recent surge of negative reviews, mainly because it no longer offers flight tracking.


(FREE)

airport guide/itinerary management (flights only)

GateGuru wants to transform your day-of-travel experience from stressful to smooth.

This app has a couple basic components.

Users can import trips manually, or e-mail flight confirmation info to plans@gateguruapp.com. Each trip in the system is considered a “Journey.” From the home screen, users see a list of upcoming Journeys and direct access to AirportCards at the bottom. If you select an upcoming trip, information about the itinerary (flight #, duration, departing/arrival times, gate, and terminal) is presented on the JourneyCard in a timeline format.

This is updated in real-time with wait times, flight delays, gate changes, layover times, adjustments, etc. Plus, GateGuru sends push notifications about these updates if you allow them.

GateGuru’s AirportCards are a fantastic way to peruse airport information on a sleek interface.

Users are provided with current weather information, terminal maps, a comprehensive list of amenities with reviews (including eateries, shops, and services) that can be filtered by terminal, and fellow traveler tips. GateGuru also works some cool magic behind the scenes on your day of departure: when you see content, it’s been tailored to your specific itinerary based on your departure and arrival terminals.

Hot Tip: GateGuru now offers the ability to search for and book an Avis rental car at a “significantly discounted rate” (reportedly up to 35%) that’s only available through their partnership.


(FREE; iFly Pro $4.99-$6.99)

airport guide/flight tracker

iFly is a tool for getting “through and between commercial airports;” basically another airport guide.

iFly boasts information on over 700 domestic and international commercial airports, so it’s pretty comprehensive!

The website itself has standard info on airports including contact information, terminal maps, security wait times, an index of shops/restaurants, directions, ground transport, etc.

Also included are tons of traveler tips on topics like baggage allowances, airline lounges, jet lag prevention, and much more.

The basic (free) iFly app includes airport guides that have most of the above information, as well as an in-terminal GPS guide which can be helpful. The iFly Pro app allows for flight tracking and TripIt integration for assistance with flight itinerary management.

Hot Tip: iOS users can also purchase TSA Wait Times by iFly for $3.99. This in-app purchase allows for anticipated wait times and plans how early you should get to the airport and into that pesky security line.


(FREE)

global metasearch site/airport guide

If you already have the Kayak app downloaded for either search, accommodation, or organizational reasons, rejoice!

You also have a handy little airport guide for about 35 major airports in the U.S., which includes basics like an index of restaurants and shops as well as security wait times.

The app also gives in-terminal turn-by-turn directions to get to that little lunch spot where you want to grab a quick bite before take-off!

Looks like Kayak is turning into a pretty extensive little app, huh?


(FREE)

airport lounge guide including booking/access capabilities

Airport lounge access isn’t just a perk for exclusive travel anymore. LoungeBuddy is a fantastic app providing copious amounts of knowledge on (and the ability to purchase access to) thousands of lounges worldwide. LoungeBuddy provides info on over 900 airports and over 2,800 lounges!

Users can find extensive reviews of specific lounges including what amenities are provided, hours of operation, ratings and reviews, photos, access options, etc. Even better, users can create a trip, give LoungeBuddy information about the itinerary, and use the Lounge Access Wizard to find out which lounges they can access for free or a one-time fee.

Not sure if that fee is worth it? Again, check out their guide on the lounge and decide for yourself.

Hot Tip: If you DO want to purchase lounge access at any time, you can do so directly from the app (now integrated with Apple Pay) in just a few taps. So seamless!


(FREE; Unlock All $0.99; Unlock Maps $0.99; Ad Removal $0.99)

security wait time prediction/crowdsourcing

MiFlight is an app focused solely on providing accurate wait times at airport security checkpoints. Touching on that very important travel goal of more efficiency + less stress, this app has one purpose: letting users quickly assess wait times.

With no fluff to sort through (guides, flight tracking, itinerary management, etc.) users can get the info they need quickly. Of course, since the platform is based on crowdsourcing, the more people who use it, the more accurate it becomes.


(FREE)

expedited passport control and customs declaration

Officially authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Mobile Passport app aids travelers in speeding through passport control/customs upon arrival to over 20 U.S. airports (and expanding).

After downloading the app and setting up a basic profile, you’re ready to go.

When you land at one of the operating airports, you answer the basic CBP questions, review the details for your trip, and submit your info. CBP quickly sends you a receipt with QR code valid for 4 hours.

You follow the signs for Mobile Passport Control, scan your barcode, show your passport to the official, and possibly answer a few questions.

If applicable, you’re given an exit card, pick up your bags, head to the customs agent, hand them your exit card, scan your code again, and voila! You’re through. Now that’s pretty easy.

Hot Tip: Multiple profiles are allowed within the app, making it easy for families to zoom through too.

Word to the Wise: Information cannot be submitted in advance; you can only do so once your plane has landed.

Word to the Wise: Mobile Passport is fairly new and is open to anyone with a U.S. passport. This could mean these lines will be more clogged as the app becomes more popular, but at least it’s a bit of a relief for now!


(FREE)

security wait time prediction/crowdsourcing

MyTSA is basically the government’s app for checking TSA wait times.

However, while generally focusing on these estimated waits, it also provides some additional information for travelers like airport delays, ID requirements, and rules on what you can/cannot bring aboard an aircraft.

Finally, it allows users to provide feedback on their experience directly to TSA. Again, this is crowdsourced information – the wait times don’t come from TSA itself. Which means it doesn’t work all that well if a lot of people aren’t using it.

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