Have you ever been stuck in traffic on the way to pick a friend up from the airport, and wanted to know whether their plane was on time? Nearly missed a connection because of a delayed flight or last-minute gate change?
Airports are difficult places at the best of times, and more so when things aren't quite going to plan. To keep those stress levels under control, here are five smartphone apps that can track your flights, notify you of changes and even tell you how to find your gate, food or a bathroom in airports around the world.
As well as price, supported devices and an overview of the app, I've also let you know who each app is best for. Even with many airports offering Wi-fi, there are no guarantees of data or cell service while traveling, so I've also singled out which features – if any – are usable offline.
Overview: Laid out like an old-school arrivals board, the Flightboard app shows near real-time arrival and departure information for 3,000 airports and 1,400 airlines around the world.
There's information on delays and weather, and tapping on any flight reveals a wealth of information about it.
Best for: Those wondering whether they’ll make a connection at the next airport, or if the flight they’re going to meet will arrive on time.
Offline abilities: None
Overview: While the app has the ability to look up flight information and track delays, its unique feature is the detailed terminal maps for over 120 global airports.
As well as providing a complete terminal map, AirportZoom will display your gate location along with nearby amenities (with reviews) if you’ve got a bit of time on your hands.
Best for: Travelers with tight connections who need to find their gate in a hurry, as well as those with more time to spare who are looking for food, drink and shopping options.
Offline abilities: The app will cache limited information about an airport you've browsed before, but that’s about it.
Free, iPad only
Overview: From the same company as Airport Zoom, this simple app lets you look up flights by number, airport or route and receive up-to-the-minute information on them.
It also provides delay and weather information for a given airport. Flightstats remembers recent searches, and an alert service on the company’s website will send email or SMS alerts for flight cancellations and delays.
Best for: Anyone who needs a quick and easy way to look up flight information.
Offline abilities: The separate alert service will send an SMS as well as email, but otherwise none.
Free, iOS and Android
iFlyPro Airport Guide + Flight Tracker
Overview: IFlyPro has information for over 700 airports worldwide, along with many GPS-enabled terminal maps, and inbuilt flight tracking. Itineraries can be imported from Tripit (below), and you'll get up-to-date alerts on delays, closures and other problems that might affect your journey.
There's detailed information on airlines, including baggage fees and contact information, and you can search within the app to find which terminal a given airline operates from in each airport.
Restaurants, shops, ATMs and more are shown on the terminal maps, along with a brief review where appropriate.
Best for: Anyone who travels regularly, or just wants peace of mind in unfamiliar airports.
Offline abilities: Certain features will work offline, but not flight tracking
Overview: A simple way to store and organize your itinerary, Tripit turns transport and accommodation confirmations into a detailed trip plan. It can monitor your email, or you can forward confirmations to it, and within seconds the details will be included in the app. It'll notify you of upcoming trips, and provides helpful reminders like check-in time for flights and check-out time for hotels.
While the free version does enough for most users, Tripit Pro adds real-time flight monitoring and notification of changes, an alternate flight locator and more.
Best for: Frequent travelers.
Offline abilities: Existing itineraries can be viewed, but notifications and flight tracking won’t work.
Any one of these apps will make your airport experience a little better, especially with tight layovers and unfamiliar airports. Given that all of them have free or low-price versions available, it’s worth downloading a few to find out which ones best fit your needs.