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Find your gate before leaving home

Airport Remote lets you view departure and arrival screens from major airports right on your iPhone.

If you've read my iPhone app reviews before, you'll know that I have a slight penchant for airline- and aviation-themed titles. I've looked at the best iPhone flight tracker apps, the top titles for frequent fliers, and the best apps for airline geeks.

Given my track record, it shouldn't surprise you that I spend a lot of time scanning airport departure screens. Don't ask me why--I guess I just like to see where everyone is going--but I continue looking even after I've found the gate for my flight. So I was excited when I heard about Airport Remote, a nifty app that lets me take all that information on the go. Even if you're not an airline geek, you can use Airport Remote to check a flight's status before even leaving home. It's in the iTunes App Store for $3.99.

Screenshot by Kent German/CNET

Airport Remote, developed by Sojern, shows real-time departure and arrival screens from 100 major airports across the United States, plus 20 of the biggest fields around the world. The list is surprisingly extensive so even the most-frequent globetrotter should be covered. What's more, all airlines that serve a particularly airport are listed; you'll even see details for cargo and charter flights and executive aircraft.

The interface is minimalist and straightforward. Some might find the deep blue backgrounds a bit boring, but I don't expect too much from such a simple productivity app. On the main screen, you'll find options for seeing your closest airport or selecting from the full list. When inside the full list, you can scroll down with a finger swipe or use the search bar.

Once you select an airport, you can choose to see departure and arrival information. The latter is especially helpful since some airports, like San Francisco International, are removing arrival displays from terminals. Each screen has all the vital details including the departure or arrival city, the flight number and gate, the airline (complete with logo), the departure or arrival time, and the flight's status. You can sort by any of the fields and view cities in reverse alphabetical order. And if that isn't information overload already, you can click through for options to send the flight details to a friend, check weather reports, and see the reason for the delay.

The app's accuracy is commendable. When I tested Airport Remote at San Francisco's airport, it matched what I saw on the actual screen in the terminal. And when there was a flight status change, it registered on the phone within seconds. As for complaints, I only had two. The app ran a little slowly on our iPhone 4, sometimes taking a few seconds to switch between screens. I also found that some information, particularly the baggage claim carousel number for arriving flights, was occasionally missing.