Of what little time I’ve spent at the airport, it’s never been a particularly joyous affair. Airports suck. But unless you’re willing to take a ship across the sea or sit in a train for two nights, you’ll have to go through that “horrific airport experience” that fades in comparison to the above alternatives.
Still, you’re here. At an airport, for a couple of minutes or a couple of hours. Fortunately you have a smartphone and if you’re particularly lucky, the airport Wi-Fi is actually usable. To get through your hopefully short stay at an airport, the best thing to do is download these apps and follow the advice given below.
1. Status Of Your Flight
If you use Gmail, Google Now is the best way to passively curate information. Google Now will show you the flight details based on the confirmation email you got. It will even remind you when it’s best to leave for the airport based on your flight.
If you’re using a modern Android phone, Google Now comes integrated. On iPhone you can enable the same features by downloading the Google Search app. It won’t have the always-on features but most of the stuff is still there.
The best thing about Google Now/Google Search app is that you can ask questions using your voice. It will convert currencies for you, show you the time in different cities, the weather for where you’re travelling and once you’ve landed, a slew of places to check out will be waiting for you.
Related: Check out the best iOS and Android apps to have by your side for when you’re traveling to a new country.
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2. Plan It With TripIt
If you’re not using TripIt (iOS, Android) to plan your travels/vacations, you’re missing out. TripIt is the everything bucket for your travel plans. Once you’ve created an account and put in relevant credentials, it will automatically import your flight tickets, hotel and travel bookings from your email or connected accounts.
You can also enter more specifics yourself.
If done right, all the details from the flight tickets to taxi hire to overnight hotel to sightseeing can be planned with TripIt. Give it a shot.
3. GateGuru For Airport Navigation
GateGuru (iOS, Android) is a mostly US-centric app that provides information about more than 200 US airports and a couple dozen international airports as well.
The app lists information like the terminals, checkpoints, reviews, and even tips. There’s also a map of the airport available.
The app has a collection of cafés, restaurants, shops and services sorted by terminals.
4. Airports By TravelNerd For iPhone
Airports By TravelNerd is an alternative to GateGuru. It is famous for its reliability and easy to use terminal maps. The app also features restaurants, lounges, transportation, etc.
5. LoungeBuddy To Relax With
Airport lounges are sneaky little buggers. Even the comfy free-to-use ones are hidden far out of sight. LoungeBuddy (iOS, Android) lists all the available lounges for more than 500 airports and tells you what you need to get in. Some lounges are free. Some are paid but well worth the price while some are exclusive to a members club that you’ll be very thankful to be a part of at 2 AM.
6. Yelp And TripAdvisor To Wander Around The Concrete Jungle
Unfortunately, GateGuru only supports a handful of airports and in many remote countries you’ll be hard pressed to find a compatible app.
This is when Yelp (iOS, Android) and TripAdvisor (iOS, Android) come in. If you’re in the US, Yelp is a great way to check on cafés and restaurants in and around your terminal before ordering that dry-looking sandwich that has a higher markup than Vietnam’s import duty.
People say all airport food is bad. If that’s true, Yelp and TripAdvisor will help you stay away from the worst.
TripAdvisor is the Yelp for the rest of the world. It is so widespread in some Asian countries that you’ll have no trouble finding reviews of shops and cafés even in small airports in India and Thailand.
TripAdvisor is also great for amassing tips for the airport you’re in. We all know how difficult airports are to navigate. It’s better to look up someone else’s advice instead of standing in the wrong queue for 30 minutes.
7. Barcode/QR Scanner App To Stop Yourself from Overdoing It
When your flight is delayed, and it will be delayed, the only alternative to browsing the web on the slow and free Wi-Fi, once you’ve watched the movies on your iPad is to wander around. You’ll be hard pressed to buy stuff. And unless it’s a duty free shop, the markup is going to be pretty high.
Before you know it, you’ve bought yourself a book you’re never going to read and a watch that doesn’t look as good the minute you’re out of the well-lit shop.
To save yourself the airport embarrassment, use a barcode scanner app and look up prices, reviews and even photos of the book/thing you’re about to buy. It will help you out a lot.