Flight Apps – Making Flying Easier?

Posted by Pat on March 13, 2016 in Travel |

There’s a beauty about always being connected and there’s hell to pay. Checking in with my United App, I receive alerts on flight schedules in real time. I can monitor my flight, where the plane is coming from, it’s stops, times of arrival and departure, and arrival gates. That is how I learned the equipment had been switched for my 1:37 flight, evidently the original plane is still sitting in Burbank. That is how I knew my new plane was leaving Medford Oregon – six hours late. Fortunately, there is still time for my connection as I was already blessed with a long layover. So I will leave SLO a couple hours late. No problem. The winds blow in my favor and barring more surprises, I will still arrive into a very cold Minneapolis by midnight. That’s pre-leaping-forward-an-hour time.

Alas, more surprises! 

Flying these days, one needs Apps to keep the skies in some semblance of friendliness. All are free and relatively easy to use.

The United App goes where I go. In fact, all airlines have their own APP for my mobiles. With them I can open an account, book flights, look up the plane’s seat configuration, choose or change seats, sign up for alerts, check in, see the standby status, find the location of lounges, or upgrade. These Apps usually work on inflight wifi so I can continue to get updates, check the arrival gate, the baggage carousel and maybe order a pizza and beer to be waiting for me. Just kidding on that last one but other Apps will do that for me. Many Apps are partnering up with Uber. United even gives access to inflight entertainment using their App, though I don’t usually find much to excite me about this feature.

Notification from United:

“Because of a delay with your originally scheduled itinerary, you may select another flight option at no additional charge. We’re very sorry for this disruption to your travel plans.”

Hopefully I have not made a mistake watching that flight take off to LAX just now. Ah the trusting flyer that I am.

Gate Guru is an App that enables me to enter my flight# and find my departure and arrival gates. Makes it handy for figuring distance between my connection gates. How fast will I have to run? I can also look up amenities within an airport without having to download another App or go onto the web. I can look for restaurants, public transport, ATMs and airport maps. Or a cold brew!

Airports is user friendly. It will connect me to major airports around the world and to the sources of transportation available from that airport into the city. I learn transportation choices ranging from $2 to $60 will get me from SFO into San Francisco. These vary from the bus, to a super shuttle, Bart, or Uber. I can book many of these using the App itself.

In FlightStats’ Airport Zoom I enter the name of an airport for a list of all flight arrival and departure times, weather conditions and more. Too much more. This is how I know, despite United’s, and my, optimism, a whole bunch of planes are delayed leaving SFO due to high winds. My plane sits on the runway awaiting a go. Again reaffirms my conviction I should never fly out of SFO. My odds have shown the majority of my flights out of SFO have been late. Could be a long night.

My TSA checks for the length of lines and best places to approach security. It also lists general delays at an airport which is how I discovered “Due to weather/wind, departure traffic destined to SFO is currently experiencing delays averaging 1 hour and 17 minutes.” I can only hope my connecting flight suffers the same curse.

FlightAware is a fast and visually attractive App to further my search for information on weather and delays. Enter the departure and destination airports, or search flight, tail, airport or city for up-to-date information. I am able to check the status of both my flight and airport. I especially like that this App also gives me information for the same flight during the past few days, giving me a view of on-time performance and gate arrivals. Plus, I can view a current weather map of the region and create an alert for my flight. Most times, these alerts show up on my mobile before they are on the airport screens and always sooner than they are announced by the staff. If I needed to entertain a child, I’d have them use this App to enter tail numbers of airplanes to investigate a flight’s destination. If I wanted to look at a really scary map, I could load the route map to see all the congestion in the friendly skies. Yikes! 

Overdrive, don’t leave home without it. I connected my library card to this App years ago. Since then, I have checked out books throughout the world. Right now, it is coming in handy.

Departure does not look good. So let me check to see what alternate flights are possible. United suggests specific itineraries and I can rebook one at the touch of a button. However, none of their suggestions am I jumping for joy over. Do I really want to hang around five more hours then fly to Houston or Chicago to get to Minneapolis tomorrow? However, I am called to the desk and rescheduled. “Ping” goes my phone about the same time to tell me what the man at the computer is telling me. I leave in a few minutes on American to Phoenix for a connection into Minneapolis, arriving within minutes of my original flight. Or before, depending on SFO weather conditions.

I enter my reservation number into the American App and Lo and Behold, my flight appears like magic on my mobile. Electronic boarding pass in hand, I am off to the races, or in this instance, Phoenix. Now to check Seat Guru to investigate the seat configuration of the 737 and determine the location of my seat. But then, I probably don’t want to know!

There’s hell to pay but there can be a beauty about being connected.

 

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