The Future of Airline Apps: Change Seats, Find Your Lost Bags and More

FareCompare readers already know what airlines and airports are just discovering: putting information into passengers' hands is smart business. New mobile apps give passengers the information they need to save money and make the most of their travel time. Airports and third-party developers also are creating exciting apps designed to make all aspects of air travel easier. Here's a look at some of the apps FareCompare readers will use over the next couple of years.

Travel Apps from Airlines
Right now, you can use airline-based apps to check in online, choose seats and download boarding passes. But those options will expand in the next couple of years.

Delta is an early adopter of mobile apps, allowing customers to adjust itineraries from their smartphone or other mobile device. For example, passengers in flight who know they will miss a connection can rebook and download a boarding pass before they land. Delta also is working on an app allowing passengers to track their checked luggage.

United/Continental and American have mobile apps containing airport details, which are useful for finding gates. Currently these apps do not contain details on airport features, such as food and shopping.

Airline alliances, like Star Alliance, are a bit behind with mobile apps. But their task is harder because it involves integrating multiple airlines. Star Alliance does have apps for airport information, searching and tracking flights, and finding fares on alliance airlines (United, Continental, US Airways and Air Canada).

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Apps for Airports
Airports are developing "augmented reality" technology for their apps, which lets users point their mobile device camera at their surroundings and get up-to-date information about their current location, including nearby shopping and restaurants. The airport in Copenhagen, Denmark, was the first in the world to create this type of mobile app, allowing fliers to obtain gate information, plus details on nearby shopping and other airport services.


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Third-Party Apps
GuestLogix recently launched the OnTouch Mobile Concierge app, which lets travelers look up itinerary details, make in-flight purchases such as drinks and meals, arrange for ground transportation, and find dining and entertainment options in their destination city. The company is currently in talks with major North American airlines about having airlines offer the app directly.

Another hot third-party app is goHow Airport, which links directly with partner airport data feeds. Current partner airports include those in Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Boston. From these partner airports, you can find out everything you need to know about your flight status, gate, weather, parking and security wait times. The app can monitor multiple flights and multiple trips in real time. With non-partner "Network" airports (which include includes most major U.S. airports as well as around 30 international airports), goHow Airport provides key airport information to make traveling easier.

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