This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Turbulence is a fact of life when it comes to air travel. In Denver, where I live, the Rocky Mountains can cause a bumpy approach year-round. What scares people the most about turbulence is that it can surprise us, even in clear skies. Only the two pilots up front have any clue it might be coming. However, one smartphone app aims to help calm your nerves.

The SkyGuru app is one of the brilliant ideas I stumbled upon at the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany. The company actually reached out to me via Twitter while I was at the show, and I liked the concept so much that I had to respond to the brief pitch. I’ve flown over 600 times in the past 16 years since I began tracking my flights, so the bumps don’t bother me. But for many people who don’t understand the mechanical and meteorological nuances that cause a plane to move about unexpectedly, each aircraft movement can be frightening.

fullsizeoutput_1735

Enter SkyGuru. The app — which is still in beta testing — explains each stage of flight to passengers, and also integrates weather reports so that passengers can know to expect turbulence at certain points along their journey. I used SkyGuru on a recent Alaska Airlines flight between Seattle International Airport (SEA) and Denver International Airport (DEN).

SkyGuru 1

When you open the app before boarding, you enter in a few variables, such as your airline and flight number. The app imports the other details of your flight, then searches for weather reports along your flight path, calculating the times you might expect some bumps. It does not require Wi-Fi on your aircraft in order to function.

Weather isn’t the only focus of SkyGuru. Through the use of your phone’s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, it can accurately depict what your plane is doing. All you have to do it tell the app what stage of flight you are in at that time.

fullsizeoutput_1739

At take-off, the app provided messages about our speed and the sounds we would be hearing, precisely as they happened. I found its capability very impressive.

SkyGuru 4

Once in the air, SkyGuru let me see some of the flight’s telemetry data, such as the pitch, roll, speed and altitude. It also told me about the gravitational forces we were experiencing, and notified me that turbulence could be expected soon. Lo and behold, it arrived shortly thereafter.

The app still has a ways to go before it’s really ready to be rolled out, especially if it’s a paid service. A couple of improvements it needs are the option to switch measurements from Celsius to Fahrenheit, and automatic updating of departure and arrival times. My flight was late to depart, and the app didn’t reflect the delay, though the gate information was correct. One other drawback is that you have to keep your phone really still on a flat surface for the app to work, so those who like to use their phones throughout the flight for other tasks or entertainment are out of luck, unless you have another device available for those activities.

Featured image by George Rose / Getty Images.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.