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Best Apps for Airplane Travel

If it feels like flying is more of an ordeal every year, it’s not just you. In April 2015 alone, airlines boarded 65.9 million passengers in the U.S., up from 63.5 million the year before.

With the skies getting crowded, there’s no choice but to travel smarter. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. Practically every stage of your journey—from buying tickets to finding places to eat while traveling—is made easier by technology. Here are some of the best apps around.

1. For finding flights: Momondo

In the quest to find the cheapest fares online, there are three main options. You can book directly through an airline’s website. You can go to an online travel agent, such as ExpediaOr you can go to a ‘meta’ search engine, which searches across multiple online travel booking flights for the best deals. These sites don’t sell you flights themselves, but redirect you to online travel agents to complete your purchase.

The leading players in this field are probably Kayak, Skyscanner, and Momondo. Their prices are generally fairly close to each other, but for the very cautious or price-sensitive, it’s worth checking more than one. (And yes, a meta-meta-search for flights does exist.)

So why prefer Momondo to the others? There are not, truth be told, huge differences between the apps, but Skyscanner suffers from the lack of a multi-city function, which is a huge help for complex trips.

Momondo organizes its information very well, and will also show you train rides (and carbon emissions savings) if they’re available. And while most of these apps go for a bargain-basement aesthetic to match their prices, Momondo is actually fairly pretty.

Best Apps for Airplane Travel

Be aware that some airlines don’t play the online game except through their own websites—Southwest Airlines is one example—and to be thorough, it’s best to check with them directly.

2. For knowing when to buy: Hopper

It’s hard to know what hurts more: buying airplane tickets too soon and watching the price drop, or buying tickets in a panic after sickening price hikes.

Hopper attempts to tilt the game in passengers’ favor. It analyzes data from thousands of flights and makes predictions about the future movements of ticket prices. Give it an origin, a destination, and a date, and it will tell you what a good price is for your trip. It will also tell you whether to buy tickets now, or whether to hold out. (Kayak also has a version of this feature built in to its search results.) Hopper will also direct you to online travel agents to buy tickets.

Note that some airlines, like American and U.S. Airways, block their results from appearing in Hopper, so some shopping around is still required.

3. For tracking flights: FlightTrack

There are plenty of flight trackers out there, but FlightTrack gets plaudits for its simple interface—with critical information like delays color-coded—and easy sharing of flight details with friends and family. It also has a lot of offline features, which are invaluable for airport dead zones and foreign travel.

4. For seating: Seat Guru

Seat Guru is for those with serious attention to detail. Input your flight details, and Seat Guru will pull up information about the plane you’ll be flying, and tell you everything there is to know about each individual seat. As it turns out, that can be a lot.

Best Apps for Airplane Travel


5. For airport lounges: LoungeBuddy

Describing itself as “your airport lounge companion”, LoungeBuddy lets you create a profile that includes your credit cards and lounge memberships. For any airport you visit, LoungeBuddy identifies lounges you can visit, lets you virtually tour them, and reserve online.

6. For jet lag: Entrain

Developed by scientists at the University of Michigan, Entrain develops a personalized schedule to help you overcome jet lag. Based on the amount of light you receive, when you wake up and sleep, and where you’re going, Entrain will develop an adjustment program for you.

Best Apps for Airplane Travel

The schedule is also flexible, so that if you fall asleep when you’re meant to be soaking up the sun, the app will adjust based on what you report back to it.

7. For finding information when you get there: Wikitude World Browser

You could look up reviews online. But who has time for that, when you could see reviews superimposed on your surroundings with augmented reality?

Wikitude World Browser gives you a glimpse of the future. It will annotate what you see in your phone’s camera screen, showing you hotels, bars, and restaurants (with reviews) and give you information about what’s nearby.

Of course, to take advantage of all these apps, you have to get to the airport first. If you’re heading to an airport in the NYC area, reserve a limo with us.
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