May 16, 2013

Tech Thursdays: Smooth Summer Travels

Welcome to Tech Thursdays, penned by Miguel, tech expert and our Airport Operations Supervisor in San Jose, California. This month’s topic touches on some worthy tools to help smooth out your summer travel experience.

Planes are full and there are plenty of kids and families traveling, which can only mean one thing: Summer traveling season is upon us! If you’re like me, you’re making sure that all your flight, hotel and theme park tickets are all ready to go. With the mass of humanity traveling to the same places as you are, it’s nice to have some edge to help ease the anxiety and headache of travel. I found several free apps for the iPhone and iPad that might help.

At the Airport

Let’s start at the airport. I’m guessing that you won’t be as familiar as a Jetblue crewmember who knows every nook and cranny of the airports we work in. Me? I can tell you which door in what gate in SJC makes what sound when opened. But I digress.

If you’re going to an unfamiliar airport, TravelNerd should be in your collection. This app shows all the airlines in a given airport and what terminal they are located. To avoid the head-scratching-tourist-look, you can also pretend to be in-the-know by consulting the TravelNerd maps of each terminal. It will show restaurants, amenities, restrooms and ground transportation but don’t be surprised if a section is empty. I don’t think TravelNerd’s database is fully updated but it does serve as a good guide. I found that TravelNerd is easy to use and navigate.

The TSA and the lines at the checkpoint are probably not in most travelers’ must-experience list but the security checkpoint process has improved immensely since it has been modified in 2001. The TSA has also created an app with an endearing name called, MyTSA. And you know what? It’s pretty useful.

Travelers can check and post security wait times at different airport terminals. It does rely on user participation so the numbers might be more accurate in bigger airports. I love the “Can I bring my…” feature because this is one of the most asked questions by customers. You can simply type in the item in question and MyTSA will give you the TSA regulation. I’d recommend using this tool prior to packing if you can. I’ve seen customers throw away expensive bottles of perfume because they were carrying too much in their carryon bag. It also has a Traveler’s Guide section that gives tips and guidance from packing to necessary travel documents to have.

Inflight

Since you’re travelling on Jetblue (big thanks!), don’t forget to use our Jetblue app. Besides giving you the ability to check-in on the go, you can check your flight status and plan on which movie, DIRECTV channel to watch or the SiriusXM channel you want to listen to. You and the kids can also create attractive postcards in the Cool Stuff section using your smartphone or tablet cameras.

At Your Destination

So, you have your rental car and a car full of wide-eyed, giddy little munchkins to visit that famous downtown attraction or new theme park. Next question: Where do you park? Don’t fret. I’ve got you covered. ParkMe is an app that shows you where to park without paying an arm and a leg. All you have to do is type in the place you want to go and voila, it shows you where to go. ParkMe is more than just a glorified sidewalk pointer though. This little gem shows drivers not only where the garage or street parking spots are, but also how much it will cost to park. Markers also indicate if the parking spot is open, semi-full or closed.

Of course, nothing beats preparation when it comes to summer travel but I hope some of my recommendations help alleviate some stress and help you enjoy your time with family and friends.

Be sure to check out more travel tips and share your own with SoFly!

Read Miguel’s previous columnslearn more about Miguel and stay tuned for the next edition of Tech Thursdays!

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