Five air travel apps for the holiday weekend

Though Thanksgiving travel can be rough with the crowds and winter weather, your journey can be made easier with a few smartphone apps. CNET shows you a few titles for air travel.

America will be on the move this Thanksgiving week as millions crowd airports, highways and trains in search of that tasty turkey or Tofurky meal. Though travel rarely stresses me, I know the prospect of braving the tired masses and the TSA pat-downs can be daunting. So to help you navigate from home to holiday, and complete your journey with as little pain as possible, I've pulled a few must-have smartphone apps. Being the aviation nut that I am I'll focus on air travel, but I'd love to hear your titles for braving the roads and rails. And please tell me about your favorite flying apps as well.

FlightTrack Screenshot by Kent German/CNET

FlightTrack
Whether you're picking Mom up at LAX or flying to O'Hare as I am, a flight-tracker app is essential. There are quite a few options available in both the iTunes App Store and the Android Market, but FlightTrack by Mobiata is one of my favorites. You get a lot of information in a clean and easily digestible format and the maps are the best I've seen. Cheaper titles are available, but I think FlightTrack is worth the money.

Before a flight departs you'll see the scheduled departure time and any delay information. And once a flight is in the air FlightTrack shows the airspeed, arrival gate, baggage carousel number, present altitude, a shortcut to the airline's phone number, and the local time and temperature of the departure and arrival cities.

Availability: iPhone and Android
Price: $4.99

Point Inside
Though it's not devoted solely to air travel, Point Inside is the perfect app during a long airport layover or when you're delayed. For most major airports around the country, and a selection in Europe and Asia, it shows maps of everything you'll need, including shops and restaurants, departure gates, baggage claim carousels, ticketing desks, airline lounges, and related services.

Other airport map apps exist, but this is the most comprehensive title I've found, and I love its individually designed maps. Also, if you plan to shop on Black Friday, Point Inside includes maps of major shopping malls with all of the relevant shops, restaurants, and attractions.

Availability: iPhone and Android
Price: Free

Tripcase Screenshot by Kent German/CNET

TripCase
If you're trying to keep track of a flight, a car rental, a hotel booking, and a dinner reservation, TripCase can be a great tool. Developed by Sabre, it acts as a diary for all aspects of your itinerary. It can even store a meeting, an event (like a theater date), and plans to go sightseeing.

The best thing about TripCase is that as your flight departure time nears, the app will display your airport gate and you'll receive push and e-mail notifications in case of a delay. That feature has saved me a lot of airport waiting on previous trips.

Availability: iPhone and Android
Price: Free

FAA Airport Status
If only Thanksgiving were in summer then we wouldn't have to worry about winter weather. But being as it is in late November, delays caused by snow and rain are a very real possibility in the northern half of the country. Though the above apps, and an airline's Web site, can keep you informed about a delay for your specific flight, this app shows you the real conditions affecting many major airports. For example, when I looked at San Francisco International Airport on Monday night, it showed me that all flights destined for Seattle wouldn't be allowed to depart until after 6:30pm. You also get a weather map of the 48 states.

Availability: iPhone only
Price: Free

Kayak Screenshot by Kent German/CNET

Kayak
If you still haven't made travel plans for turkey day, I wish you all the luck in the world. You'll have to open that wallet pretty wide and be flexible about your schedule, but there are a few apps that can help you on your way. Kayak is a top Web site for finding great fares, and you can get all that functionality on the go.

You can search for flights, hotels and rentals cars; book your desired ticket; research luggage fees; organize your itinerary; and track flight status. You can get an ad-supported version for free or you can ditch the ads by shelling out just 99 cents for the Pro version (the features are the same).

Availability: iPhone and Android, but Pro version is only on the iPhone
Price: Free to 99 cents

 

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