Scenario: You have a flight to catch and need to reach the airport two hours before the scheduled departure. On this day, however, the traffic is really bad, and you end up reaching the airport only an hour ahead of time. The check-in counter is closed, and you end up missing the flight.
This was a commonplace scenario until a few years ago. Today, from ordering a pizza to banking, there is an app for everything! Technology, however, has changed the face of everything, including travel. From picking a destination to buying tickets, checking weather at the destination to finding easy parking—all answers are literally at your fingertips on your smartphone.
Where Should I Go?
Whether traveling for leisure or work, specifics of the destination can be located online (Google Maps). Once there, from finding out events and things to do (TimeOut), Currency Exchange (XE Currency), translators (Google Translate), hotel and cab bookings (Hotwire, Hotels, Uber), it’s easy to get every little detail right on a smartphone via handy applications.
Imagine landing and finding out that a storm is approaching, so you will need to stay indoors. The perfect vacation nightmare! With weather update apps such as AccuWeather, Yahoo Weather, and BBC Weather available, you can find out the weather forecast of your destination days in advance, which will help you plan for the trip and pack accordingly.
Find a Shortcut Google Maps and GPS trackers are now commonplace, but for stress free-travel, you need applications that display the shortest route and avoid traffic congestion so that you can get to the airport in time. INRIX Traffic, Waze, and other such apps use real-time traffic alerts and navigation tools to do just that. Mobile apps such as the Preflight Parking app help reserve parking at many airports. You could, of course, bypass the whole driving and parking scenario and just hail an Uber from work or home.
Much More Than Just Flight Status
Then there’s the frustration of reaching the airport only to find out that the flight is delayed by a couple of hours. Any of the many flight status apps easily available on the Apple iTunes Store or the Google Play Store can be downloaded. Applications such as FlightTrack 5, FlightBoard, and Flightwise Flight Tracker Pro connect the user with over 1,400 airlines and 3,000 airports across the world. These are paid apps, but applications such as FlightAware Flight Tracker, GateGuru, and FlightView Free are free downloads that work just as well. Upon entering flight details, these apps provide information about flight time, expected delays, gates, cancellations, security wait times, and even airport amenities. Most of the applications are GPS enabled and come with a zoomable map that works both online and offline.
Your Personal Concierge
Many complain that mobile technology is making the world a cold and impersonal place. There’s little truth in that statement if you consider the plethora of benefits that something simple like uninterrupted Wi-Fi connectivity can bring. Most airports these days are taking to Twitter and Facebook to connect with travelers. Travelers too use social media in real time to praise or take to task service providers at airports. Virtual Personal Concierges are fast becoming popular and can guide you through exasperatingly long security queues at airports. Post-9/11 security measures are numerous, and security holdups are the single greatest cause for delays in airports across the world. Apps like MiFlight and GateGuru provide crowdsourced security line time information.
The interminable wait at airports can be exhausting even for the frequent traveler. With easy and fast WiFi connectivity available at airports, handheld devices can be used alongside apps such as IFly Pro, Lounge Buddy, Airport Transit Guide, and Fleet not only to find entertainment such as lounges, shopping areas, and restaurants but also to learn when to return to the gate area for boarding. Improvements in the overall airport experience work well for the airports too. They have a better chance of promoting duty free shops, restaurants, and advertising on the airport premises.
Travelers are demanding ease at every step of the way—from booking flights to better planning for the trip as well as booking parking to getting up-to-the-minute information on delays. Smartphones and uninterrupted Internet access lies at the core of making travel easier and more enjoyable.
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