Best Travel Apps for Thanksgiving

Best Travel Apps for Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving is known as the busiest travel day of the year, and many travelers will rely on their smartphones—for checking flight information, taking care of last-minute work issues and keeping concerned relatives in the loop about their arrivals.

The noisy traffic, long lines and maddening crowds would make anyone tense, but if you have already made it to the airport, be sure to use your smartphone to make your three-hour layover a little more bearable. Whether it's looking for a decent sandwich, whiling away the minutes with a flight-inspired game or finding alternative flights, there are a few travel apps to make your Thanksgiving journey a little less stressful. Before you know it, you’ll be on a plane to see your loved ones and enjoying the biggest meal of the year.

Flight Director Lite

After flight delays, invasive security pat-downs and $8 coffees, you may feel as if you have no control over anything at the airport. However, with this free game app, you can have control over an entire airport's flight pattern; landing and maneuvering planes without a hitch. Flight Director will keep your mind spry and your wallet safe from spending another $6 on a dry mini muffin.

The app gives you the title of air traffic controller of a major metropolitan airport, such as New York's LaGuardia Airport. Try your hand at landing jets, fighters, helicopters and private planes onto the right runway or pad without crashing. With more and more aircraft squeezing into the same airspace frame, the game soon becomes difficult. So, whether or not you like flying, you at least gain new respect for air traffic controllers.

We like the fact that the app’s maps are taken directly from Google Earth, so you get a realistic bird's eye view of the planes as they come in, as well as the various runways and pads where they need to land. The downside of the app is its $1.99 price tag for the regular Flight Director version, but the app is ad-free and has seven maps for more game variety. For a free alternative, download Flight Director Lite, which has two maps as well as some advertisements. Here on The Recapp, we offer the Lite version to start your flying lessons. ($1.99 for Android, Flight Director Lite is free for Android)

GateGuru

Yes, we know that you have a turkey and pumpkin pie waiting for you at your destination, but after a few hours in airport purgatory, most travelers are bound to get peckish. Since airport food isn't known for tasteful charm, you’ll want to download GateGuru, which will at least help a hungry traveler pinpoint the best airport fare.

We tested the app at San Francisco International. The app quickly displayed the high ratings of the grab-and-go Napa Farms Market near the Terminal 2 concourse and the sushi at Ebisu in the North Food Court. First-time airport visitors needn’t worry, as GateGuru has a map of the airport for reference. GateGuru also features user-generated ratings for shops and services, so travelers could have plenty to do before their flights take off. If you're searching for a place to grab a therapeutic massage or an early Christmas present for your niece, GateGuru informs you how to get the most out of your airport stay. (Free for Android and iPhone)

OnTheFly

On the busiest travel day of the year, there's always a chance flights will get delayed, or worse, canceled. So, while we hope you won't need it, every traveler this Thanksgiving should have an app to check on alternate flights and airlines. Hopefully by the time you're informed of a long delay or cancellation, you will already be headed to another flight while fellow passengers are still figuring out what to do.

ITA Software's OnTheFly gets top marks for its simplicity, easy-to-understand graphics and quick loading times, which make it much better than the usual travel app. Simply select your airport plus any alternatives that you may need on hand, and check the airline prices for a general or specific departure date. The travel app calculates the lowest price on an interactive graph and ranks results by price and date. The app also narrows down the flights by airline, airport, number of stops and arrival times.

In order to book a flight, the app provides the phone number for the airline, which digital folks may find bothersome. But if you’re at the airport already, just swing by the ticket counter and book in person. (Free for Android and iPhone)

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