With endless queues and security checks at the airport, it is easy to forget that flying used to be seen as a glamorous activity. Now, it is less of an adventure and more of a chore.
One thing we do have in our favour are the airline apps for our smartphone devices, which can take some of the hassle out of flying. As well as checking the latest departure and arrival times, we can use them to check-in and even to select a seat.
There are nearly as many airline apps for your Nokia Lumia as there are airline carriers. I’m not brand loyal when it comes to airlines, I just want the best deal for flights that depart and arrive at a time that is convenient for me.
So, theoretically, I could be using a different app for different trips, depending on which airline I am flying with. With that in mind, it’s probably worth looking at a selection of the apps to see which ones have a smooth landing and which ones crash on departure.
Here’s an appraisal of the major international airline apps for your Nokia Lumia in the Windows Phone Marketplace. One thing they do have in common is that they are all free.
British Airways’ slogan used to proclaim itself as ‘the world’s favourite airline’ but is it the world’s favourite airline app?
To make the most of this app you need to register a BA.com account and become a member of their Executive Club (it’s free to join).
Once you’ve signed in with your account you can see your flight details, use your Lumia as a mobile boarding pass, which can be pinned as a live tile to your start screen and get live departure and gate information.
Even if you’re not travelling yourself, you can use the app to track departures and arrivals for any BA flight.
I’ll just come straight out and say it: I want to fly Delta just so that I can use this app for real. It claims to have a host of ‘industry leading’ features and it is easy to see why.
You can use the app to check in 24 hours before any flight, download your boarding pass, select or change your seat, there’s an interactive flight tracker, get the latest flight information and you can even track the location of your luggage.
Push notifications are also available so that you will always be told if there are any changes to your flight details. Delta Fly is a very impressive and comprehensive app.
Just like that of its North American rival Delta, American Airlines is an app that is also packed with generous features.
As well as your personal flight information, check in and notifications, this app can give you access to the American Airlines rewards programme or let you enrol in the service if you are not a member.
An extremely simple but useful function is the parking reminder. Take a photo and make a note of where you’ve parked your car at the airport.
It’s back to earth with a bump for the app of Dutch carrier, KLM.
In terms of features, it is adequate. There is the check-in, selecting seats, latest flight information and all of that stuff.
Where it falls down flat is that it’s not really an app, but instead feels and operates like a mobile version of a website. It doesn’t embrace any gestures of the Windows Phone interface, let alone offer advanced features such as live tiles. Very disappointing.
I can’t say that I have ever flown with Malaysia Airlines before, but I might in the future because the app has a very nice, simple to use, ‘book flight’ option. It’s a good idea because it makes the app useful for potential passengers rather than for people who have already booked flights.
There are other nice touches too, such as storing your passport details to save you from entering that information every time you make a new booking. The cost conscious will also like their ‘deals and offers’ screen.
It’s a social app as well, with a YouTube channel, Twitter and Facebook integration. As you could expect, it offers all the basics in the form of check-in, timetables and flight status.
Let’s stay in that part of the world, with a look at the Qantas app.
Unlike its Malaysian counterpart, this app is only useful if you are actually flying with Qantas. You can’t search for flights or check their timetables, although you can see the location of Qantas lounges in airports around the world.
However, if you are lucky enough to be flying Qantas, which was immortalised in Rain Man as the airline that never crashes, then you can login with your frequent flyer account and take advantage of many other features.
There’s checking in with the app, push notifications for flight updates, mobile boarding pass and pinning flights to your start screen. Uniquely, by enabling the app access to your location information, you can also get alerts for when you need to leave to make it on time for your flight, plus get directions to the airport.
It’s back to Europe with another of the continent’s flagship carriers, Air France.
Like the Malaysia Airlines app you can also search and buy flights for Air France and KLM on here. It’s also possible to modify or cancel bookings on your Lumia.
The app contains each of the key stages of that every airline app should have: Buying the flight, the ability to check-in, select a seat and get a boarding pass and then the ability to monitor flight information so that you are kept informed of changes to the flight times, departure gates and so on.
This being Air France, there is also a live flight section, so that you can be kept informed of any airport or airline strikes that could affect your schedule.
You can’t buy tickets with the app of the Italian national carrier, but you can check their timetables or check in if you’ve already got a flight booked.
As with most of these apps, it is more rewarding and easier to use if you are an existing member of its rewards programme. This makes it faster to check in and to maintain your profile for future use.
Even if you’re not flying, you can use this app to browse the airlines special offers. Also, whereas a couple of the earlier apps can remind you where you parked your car, with Alitalia you can reserve a parking space at one of its main Italian airports.
It is with a sense of foreboding that I install any app that insists on full block capital for its whole name. Thankfully, you can always depend on the tasteful nature of Swiss design and this app is no different.
It is deceptively simple to use but also extremely effective. For instance, by clicking on ‘flight status’ you can search for your own (or a friend’s) flight number and also for all Swiss Air departure and arrivals in airports around the world. Click on a flight and it will tell you what type of aircraft is flying, gate number and other important information.
You can also book flights, check-in and select your seats. In terms of functionality, there is little to set it apart from the others but it is easy to use and very elegant.
Have you used one of these airline apps when you have been flying? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.
Image credit: egmTacahopeful