Now that almost every flyer has a smartphone, and almost every airport has charging stations to power up these devices, savvy travelers know to load up on handy apps. But which ones are the best for your entire flight process—from booking that cheap ticket to saving yourself when things go wrong? The apps below are so helpful, we suspect the airlines would prefer you didn't actually use them.
- Flyers Rights ($0.99): Did you know that airlines are no longer legally allowed to keep you trapped on the tarmac for more than three hours during a domestic flight delay? If you had the Flyers Rights app, you would. Plus, you'd be able to log your delays in real time, using the app's GPS system and map for future evidence. The app also gives helpful tips about what to do in the event of a delay, and specific information about your legal rights as a passenger.
- SkyScanner (Free): Airlines would rather have you book directly through their website than going through an online travel agency (OTA) like Expedia or Priceline. But who has time to search all the airline websites separately? Use Skyscanner instead, which not only scans all the major airlines' websites for the lowest fares, but all of the OTAs as well. Search by specific date, destination, and even time, or see where you can go anytime in January for $200 with their broader search functions. You can search for flights from your airport to everywhere, and Skyscanner will return a list of destinations and prices. Skyscanner will also tell you if it's cheaper to book one-way tickets on separate airlines rather than a round-trip on one provider, something that airlines hate.
- Priority Pass (Free): Stuck with a really long layover? Use Priority Pass to check out the airline lounges available to you at the airport. View photos and offerings before deciding if you should shell out for a pass inside, or if the regular waiting room for the plebes looks just as nice for free.
- B4 You Board (Free): No more charging $10 for a desperation in-flight meal of food. The B4 You Board app lets you order food from nearby restaurants to be delivered directly to you at your gate. Order up healthy (or just delicious) food that wasn't reheated in the airplane galley, often for cheaper than an in-flight meal. Best of all, you'll have way more choices than just a wrap with mystery meat.
- Next Flight ($2.99): The priciest app in our list, Next Flight can be worth its weight in gold during a snowstorm at a crowded airport. Whether your flight is cancelled, delayed, or you just missed a connection, this app will show you a list of all available flights (from all carriers) for the same day and the next two days. While everyone else is waiting in line trying to get the gate agent to put them on standby, you can help yourself! No flights going out at all? The app also has a search for hotels, cabs, and car rentals.
One last word of advice. Make sure to turn your phone off when the cabin crew asks, because there's no app to rebook after you've been kicked off for playing Words With Friends. Yes, we mean you, Mr. Baldwin!
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