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The pros and cons of travel apps

The pros and cons of travel apps
A screen shot of American Airlines' app.

With an app and a smart phone, you'll find it easy to plan your family vacation. You can book a flight, reserve a hotel room, find a mall, scout an adventure or rent a car while lounging at your favorite diner or waiting for that foursome to play through. The apps below work on Apple iPhones,

iPod

Touches and iPads; availability of BlackBerry and Android versions are also noted.

Alaska Airlines

Pros:

Schedule flight notifications, generate boarding passes, select seats

Cons:

Unable to book flights, track mileage or send push notifications

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Cost:

Free

Info:

; works with BlackBerry

American Airlines

Pros:

Book flights, schedule flight notifications, monitor standby status, get mobile boarding passes, track mileage

Cons:

Unable to book award flights or generate push notifications

Cost:

Free

Info:

; also for Android; BlackBerry version due this year

Continental Airlines

Pros:

Book flights, including Reward Travel, get mobile boarding passes, track mileage status, get push notifications for flight status, currency converter, flight timetable and access to Continental's tweets

Cons

: Basically none; it's

almost most perfect

Cost:

Free

Info:

; works with Android

Delta Airlines

Pros:

Get mobile boarding passes, airport info, weather reports and push notifications, track mileage status, allows for flight re-booking

Cons:

Unable to book flights

Cost:

Free

Info:

; works with BlackBerry; Android version due by March 31

Southwest Airlines

Pros:

Book flights, reserve rental cars, track point status, receive Ding! Alerts for deals

Cons:

Unable to book Rapid Rewards flights

Cost:

Free

Info:

; works with BlackBerry and Android

Kayak.com, airfare, hotel, car rental aggregator

Pros:

Book flights, hotel and rental cars or utilize a car-service (limousine) search powered by GroundLink. Kayak's new iPod playlist-like interface makes it easier to search, then e-mail the results to make the purchase by computer, mobile browser or by calling the airline

Cons:

Booking sometimes seems faster on Kayak's website

Cost:

Free

Info:

; works with BlackBerry and Android

When to Fly, from Fare Compare

Pros:

Find and book airfare deals, get real-time push notifications (or e-mails) when prices change, plan adventures with Getaway maps and share deals by Twitter or

Facebook

Cons

: Can buy airfare only from Orbitz

Cost:

Free

Info:

; does not work with BlackBerry or Android.

FlightAware Live Flight Tracking

Pros:

Track commercial flights with gates and terminal info

Cons:

Lacks many features of its website

Cost:

Free

Info:

; does not work with BlackBerry or Android.

Plane Finder

Pros:

Tracks planes in real time. Lee Armstrong, chief technology officer at Pinkfroot.com, the app creator, says: "A lot of cab drivers use it … to avoid car parking charges. They drive in after seeing the plane land."

Cons:

Provides no gate or terminal info

Cost:

Free, or from $2.99 to $4.99 for enhanced versions

Info:

; Android phones can use Plane Finder's website to track planes.

Point Inside

Pros:

Maps and info for more than 100 airports and 750 shopping malls

Cons:

Can't provide all maps at this time

Cost:

Free

Info:

; works with Android

Airbnb

Pros:

Book unique lodgings, including an igloo or a treehouse, through this free membership site; scroll through listings or search by destination. Can sign in using Facebook

Cons:

Searches in the wrong place if it doesn't recognize a destination

Cost:

Free

Info:

; does not work with BlackBerry or Android

Priceline Negotiator

Pros:

Book hotel or rental cars directly or by bidding for as much as 50% savings

Cons:

Cannot book flights

Cost:

Free

Info:

; works with Android (hotels only)

Navigon Mobile-Navigator North America

Pros:

Useful for planning road trips; offers turn-by-turn voice directions. Direct Help locates roadside assistance, hospitals, police stations, etc.

Cons:

Drained my

iPhone

battery

Cost:

$59.99

Info:

; works with Android and Windows phones.

Packing Pro

Pros:

Create custom packing and to-do lists; predicts what you'll need by trip type

Cons:

Can't improve my haphazard folding

Cost:

$2.99

Info:

; does not work with BlackBerry or Android.

Bachtrack

Pros:

Finds live classical music concerts, operas and ballets worldwide

Cons:

Needs more country listings; best coverage is in the U.S. and Britain

Cost:

Free

Info:

; works with most smart phones via mobile site at

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