Flying over the holidays? Download these airport apps

Digital Crave

airport apps smartphone

Ask any holiday traveler and they’ll likely tell you there’s nothing more hectic than running through an unfamiliar airport, desperately dashing to the gate to make a connection. And lest we forget the line-ups at security checkpoints, looking for the right luggage carousel and missing your stop on the terminal tram.

Oh what fun it is to ride.

The good news is this less-than-joyful experience can be improved significantly with the help of free apps for your smartphone or tablet, all designed to help you navigate airports around the world.

Here’s a look at a half-dozen recommended travel companions.

GateGuru (Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone)

From TripAdvisor, GateGuru helps you manage your travel with real-time flight status updates pushed to your device, extensive airport info and maps, and discounted car rentals. Simply input your itinerary to view check-in details, airport weather, terminal and gate arrival and departure info, flight status, airport food reviews and even estimated TSA security wait times.

Smart Layover (Apple iOS, Android and BlackBerry)

Turn your long and boring layovers into something fun. As the name suggests, the Smart Layover app can suggest a number of enjoyable activities for when you’ve got some downtime between flights – as well as exclusive discounts on airport shops, day-use hotels and nearby spas, and comprehensive sightseeing tours and handy guides for hundreds of cities.

Airport Life (Apple iOS, Android)

Created by senior airline captain Dan Stratman, Airport Life delivers relevant air travel info you need while on the go – such as flight itineraries and detailed maps and info for more than 100 airports in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Tap to read airline rules and policies, such as baggage restrictions or cancellation fees, as well as TSA security rules. A unique opt-in social networking feature, Airport Wall, lets users in the airport share helpful info with other passengers.

FlightTrack Free (Apple iOS, Android)

While it serves up fewer features than FlightTrack ($4.99) and FlightTrack Pro ($9.99), this free (and ad-free) version offers real-time status for flights (including delays, changes and cancellations), gate numbers and baggage claim info. The intuitive user-interface shows info as flickable “cards,” while flight maps can be zoomed in by pinching. The app covers more than 3,000 airports and over 1,400 airlines worldwide.

TripIt (all major platforms)

Forward all your confirmation emails for flights, hotels, rental cars, and such, and TripIt will “automagically” organize them into detailed summaries with confirmation codes and other info. Once it's on your phone or tablet you can get instant access to all the trip info you need – including links, phone numbers and maps with directions to airlines, hotels, rental places and restaurants -- directly from your itinerary.

Kayak (Apple iOS, Android and Windows Phone)

This completely free version of Kayak Pro ($0.99 cents) lets you easily manage your trip itinerary; compare flight, hotel and car rental deals; track your flight status (with contact info for airlines); and look up airline baggage fees so there aren’t any last-minute surprises; and book your hotel, right from within the app. Along with no advertisements, Kayak Pro also lets you access airport terminal maps for over 100 airports.