By Mark Chesnut
Whether you’re looking to manage air travel or reservations for rental cars and hotels — or just searching for the ideal place to entertain clients — the advent of the smartphone has brought much needed assistance, in the form of a countless array of mobile apps designed tosmooth the travel process. Here are some of the best ways that apps are making the world of business travel easier to negotiate.
Airline booking, check-in and boarding
Apps like the free Orbitz App for Android and iPhone make it easy to shop for and book trips. And when it comes time to travel, airlines including Delta and United offer apps that issue an electronic boarding pass, while US Airways instead sends one via e-mail that can be displayed on smartphones. Both of these methods allow passengers to save paper and/or a trip to the counter, allowing them to pass through security and onto the plane with a flash of their phone. (In June, American Airlines launched apps for BlackBerry and Windows Phone smartphones, the latest in its series of apps for a variety of devices.)
Airport dining and services
Travelers searching for the best places to eat or relax in airport terminals tend to rave about GateGuru, a free app that features user-submitted restaurant and bar reviews as well as airport maps and information. To keepup on the latest flight info, you can also use the free FlightView app, which provides real-time flight information as well as flight-tracker maps for flights already in the air — which can come in handy when awaiting the arrival of a colleague (a paid “elite” version has even more features).
Navigating the highways of an unfamiliar destination can be challenging, especially when you’re running late for a business meeting. Global Positioning Systems — including Neverlost from Hertz and the Garmin GPS at National — are available with rental cars, usually for an extra fee, but free apps like Mapquest can also dictate driving (and even walking) directions, on screen and with voice commands. Navigon, a paid navigation app, also provides traffic information in real time.
Dining and entertaining
The free Yelp app is among the most popular for its listings and user-generated reviews related to dining, shopping, nightlife and entertainment. Travelers with a couple of hours to kill might also check out the free IMDB app, which features movie reviews as well as local show times.
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on business and leisure travel to Latin America.