Few people look forward to spending time at the airport. It’s typically the most tedious part of the travel experience. Most airports in the U.S. were built many decades ago; so the terminals are inherently too small to efficiently handle modern air traffic. This makes them loud, hectic, and stressful. But even the most modern and thought-out airports carry logistical risks and setbacks. Fortunately, technology is helping people to not just survive airports — but thrive in them.
These are seven of the best airport travel apps, which make going places easier than ever before.
Unless you’re a frequent traveler, airports are over-stimulating and confusing. And even people who spend a lot of time in the air can struggle to figure out a new airport. Finding your way through one often feels like navigating a labyrinth. You’re usually no better off once you reach your gate. GateGuru was created to make airports less complicated. Enter your flight information into the app and get an itinerary, including flight delays, layover adjustments, gate changes and (crowdsourced) security wait times. Detailed airport maps and rated amenity lists help guide users around terminals and display the various eateries, shops and services nearby.
Language barriers can be limiting when traveling to foreign places. Many airports include bilingual signs, especially in English, but this isn’t the case everywhere. How do you navigate a place where you don’t speak the language, and few, if any, people speak yours? Google Translate is arguably the best language app for people traveling internationally. A few features in particular make it extremely useful for getting through unfamiliar airports. Users can speak into the app, and it will automatically translate what you say into any other language. This makes it so much easier to communicate with people who don’t understand your native tongue. You can also take photos of signs, and Google Translate will automatically change it to your preferred text. Additionally, Translate is available while offline. These things make it one of the best apps for international airports.
Airports aren’t conducive for getting shut-eye. It’s not uncommon for flights to be delayed so long that travelers need to get a hotel for the night. But what about if you’re stranded during the day? HotelsByDay fills this niche by providing users with daytime hotel rentals. Think about it: You’re stuck in an airport in an unfamiliar city because of delays, tired from traveling, but it’s 10 a.m. All you want at this point is some privacy, and a bit of real sleep—not the halfway sort of snooze you fall into on a plane.
With HotelsByDay, it’s now possible to rent quality hotel rooms for just the day. Frequent travelers and locals alike find value in having a hotel room to themselves for an afternoon, whether it’s to nap, work, prepare for an evening out or bridge a layover. For those who require flexible booking and comfortable accommodations when traveling, HotelsByDay might low-key be the best app for air travel.
By now, Spotify is a household name. It’s the most popular global music-streaming platform. The ability to put on headphones and listen to any of your favorite music or podcasts is invaluable in a chaotic airport. There’s another aspect to Spotify that’s hugely beneficial to its premium users: downloadable playlists. You never know what you’re going to get when it comes to airport Wi-Fi. Plus, you’ll be able to continue listening once you get on the plane.
It’s hard to relax when you know you have to be somewhere at a specific time. This is the paradox of waiting around at the airport. You want to clear your head and get away from the insanity, but still be present enough to not miss your flight. Insight Timer is a great meditation app for airports. Users have a few options for mindful practices—from meditation to walking. Just set a timer, and the app will let you know when it’s time to resume your voyage.
Flights don’t all take off and land at the exact same time. So why are hotel check-in and -out times all based on the same rigid time bands? FlexBook solves this problem by allowing users to indicate if they want their reservation to start or end earlier or later than the standard booking. This freedom allows people to book hotel rooms for exactly the right amount of time. For booking last-minute hotels, travelers can consider HotelTonight. This service partners with hotels to get deals on unused rooms. Across the board, only about 76 percent of flights arrive on time at U.S. airports. Any amount of uncertainty makes flexible and on-demand hotel rentals a valuable commodity. No matter your needs, these hotel apps get you the right room.
International travelers know that going through U.S. customs can be a time-consuming process. This is often time you don’t have when trying to make a connecting flight. Mobile Passport lets users circumnavigate the typically long, slow lines at customs checkpoints. All you have to do is create a profile, answer some questions, submit your e-form when you arrive at the airport, and then go straight through customs by following the Mobile Passport Control signs. Currently, Mobile Passport is available for use at 26 U.S. airports and three cruise ports. Those who’ve used Mobile Passport know it’s one of the best apps for saving time at the airport.
Travelling can be stressful. There are a lot of variables to consider when going to the airport—many of which exhaust people physically and mentally. But it doesn’t have to be this way. New airport apps reduce the hassle of travel. Consider using any of these services next time you’re going somewhere.