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Apps to help you avoid airport annoyances

Jasmine France | April 25, 2013
The happiest place on earth they're not. But we find a handful of helpful apps that take the sting out of air travel.

MyTSA--Android, iOS (free)

Regrettably, there's no escape from long security lines--but you can make the experience a little less painful (or at least know what you're in for) with MyTSA. This free app for iOS and Android provides real-time operating status updates for U.S. airports, including approximate wait times at security checkpoints.

It also offers information about permitted carry-on items and tips for packing and dressing in ways that will help you get through quickly. Now if only it could help the people ahead of you understand that leaving coins and keys in their pockets will, in fact, set off the metal detector--and that no, this isn't a good time to take an Instagram picture of their socks (yes, that actually happened).

A note about boarding-pass apps: Though digital boarding passes are becoming increasingly common, they typically operate via apps from specific airlines (such as Delta, United Airlines, or Virgin Airlines). Currently, few third-party apps provide universal boarding-pass functionality--but if you're willing to take a risk, you might try, for example, Boarding Pass for iOS, PassWallet for Android, or MyPasses for Windows Phone. If you're looking to avoid potential hassles however, you may be better off sticking with the app for your airline.

Waiting

Riding on public transit, standing in the security line, and sitting at your gate entail a lot of waiting--and waiting is boring. Avoid the boredom with these diverting apps.

Netflix--Android, iOS, Windows Phone (free app, $8/month subscription)

Few activities make time fly faster than watching streaming video, and the best app for that job is still Netflix. Subscribers to the digital service ($8 per month) can access Netflix's extensive catalog of streaming movies and TV shows from their mobile devices from anyplace that has a network connection. (Just be sure to hop onto the airport's Wi-Fi to avoid exceeding your data limit.)

Netflix is only the tip of the video iceberg here, however. If you have a short attention span, try Vine, Twitter's answer to video; if anime appeals to you, give Crunchyroll a whirl. Another option is to pass the time by creating photo-video hybrids with Cinemagram. And we haven't even gotten to Hulu, Amazon Instant, HBO Go, Vimeo, and dozens of others.

Rhapsody--Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone (free app, $10/month subscription)

Music is the perfect complement to a book or a magazine, and Rhapsody provides a seemingly endless library of it--more than 16 million tracks at last count. You can listen to full albums, create custom playlists, or tune in to commercial-free radio. It's a streaming service, so again you need to be aware of your service's data limits (or use Wi-Fi). Rhapsody also allows you to save music to your device for offline playback, which is a particularly handy feature once you're in the air.

 

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