My 5 favorite mobile apps for expert travelers and aviation enthusiasts

Nov 20, 2021

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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Mobile apps have streamlined the travel experience for me.

Whether it’s checking in online, changing my seat assignment or selecting my preferred hotel room, these digital tools reduce touchpoints along the journey, getting me from point A to point B faster, easier and with less stress.

Some travel-focused apps accomplish the basics; others are designed for power users, especially budding aviation enthusiasts and those who want to know all the details about their flight and travel experience.

Let’s recap some of my favorites.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.


(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

FlightRadar24 is a must-download app for anyone who is on the go and wants to learn more about what’s going on at airports around them. The app gives you an overview of all the flights arriving and departing from almost any airport in near real time. Once you have an overview of the airport, each plane displays the airline to which it belongs, as well as its registration number, altitude, speed, heading and coordinates.

You can take a look at how many planes are ahead of you for takeoff and which runway configuration is in use at a particular moment. You can even watch as planes descend to land.

The app has a built-in augmented reality view, which works when you tilt your phone to the sky. The app will then overlay the tracking information for the planes that you’re seeing.

Alternative: If you’re only interested in the essentials, consider using FlightAware instead of FlightRadar24. You can view real-time flight statuses and route maps, as well as other handy details like speed and altitude.


(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

If you’re serious about the weather, then AeroWeather is for you. The app provides an easy-to-understand look at detailed weather information, including wind speed, visibility and atmospheric pressure.

It’s helpful for determining the weather conditions at your departure and arrival airport – and can often offer a look at whether Mother Nature will delay or possibly cancel your flight.

Alternative: Though AeroWeather offers airport-specific weather information from aerodrome reports, WeatherUnderground (and other weather apps) will likely suffice for those just trying to get a high-level look at what conditions will be like at their destination.


(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

Have you ever waited in a long line for takeoff wondering how much longer it’ll take until you’re airborne? While you could look at the real-time map on FlightRadar24, you could alternatively listen to the air traffic controllers at your airport as they clear planes for takeoff, thanks to LiveATC.

With live feeds at airports and control centers worldwide, LiveATC lets you listen to what’s going on in the cockpit of planes overhead. Sometimes, the commentary on the radio can get quite colorful. Other times, you can hear pilots request (and receive) clearance for a special approach over Manhattan and other areas.

Alternative: If you’re flying United, you can tune into Channel 9 on your seatback entertainment to also get a live feed of the air traffic control audio. Alternatively, just listen to the public address system for the latest updates from your flight crew.


(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

Will your flight get delayed? With Flighty, you might know before everyone else on your plane. The app monitors your inbound aircraft, predicts delays and promises to share live push notifications before you hear about delays from the gate agent or pilot. You can even import prior flights to create an automated annual flight log.

The app has received rave reviews from TPGers and other outlets as well, and it even won Apple’s Editor’s Choice award.

Alternative: If you don’t need to be the first to know about a delay, then just listen for announcements in the airport or plane and use airline-branded mobile apps to monitor your flights.


(Screenshot courtesy of Apple)

For some expert travelers and aviation enthusiasts, the best trips are those with multiple segments, whether that’s because you’re trying to requalify for elite status or prefer to spend your time in the sky.

With TripIt, you can easily organize, manage and track all your reservations in an easy-to-read trip timeline. I personally love the app’s integration with Apple’s iCal, which allows me to see all the reservations on my iPhone’s built-in calendar app without any manual imports.

Alternative: Did you know that both the Apple and Google calendar apps can automatically sort through your email inbox and add your reservations to your calendar? It’s a nifty feature, but those who make frequent changes would likely prefer TripIt’s setup.

Bonus: TPG App

(Photo by the The Points Guy)

A discussion of mobile travel apps wouldn’t be complete without mentioning TPG’s newly released mobile app.

The TPG App serves as an invaluable resource for planning the trips you’ve been putting off due to the pandemic with the points and miles you’ve been unable to use since last year. The app tracks all your loyalty balances, shows you how to best spend your points and miles and tells you which credit card to use for different purchases.

It’s the perfect tool to help you learn, earn and then burn your points and miles to make travel easier.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
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.