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Travel

The pros and cons of travel apps

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

Cost: Free

Info: http://www.alaskaair.com/as/mobile/apps.asp; 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: http://www.aa.com/app; 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: http://www.continental.com/web/en-us/content/travel/wireless/default.aspx; 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: http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/travel_tips/mobile/iphone/index.jsp; 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: http://www.southwest.com/html/travel-extras/mobile.html; 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: http://www.kayak.com/mobile; 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: http://www.farecompare.com/iphone; 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: flightaware.com/iphone; 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: planefinder.net; 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: pointinside.com; 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: http://www.airbnb.com/mobile/iphone; 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: http://www.priceline.com; 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: http://www.navigon.com/portal/us/produkte/navigationssoftware/index.html; 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: http://www.quinnscape.com/PackingPro.asp; 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: http://www.bachtrack.com; works with most smart phones via mobile site at m.bachtrack.com

travel@latimes.com

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