“How to Get to and Around Airports” Apps

July 12, 2013

in App Reviews

  • SumoMe

Computer With Man with Question MarkAbout three years ago, in a story entitled “Travel Tech: Where It’s At, At The Airport,” I reviewed these three smartphone apps designed to help travelers locate important airport services like banking/ATMs, restaurants and shops, and ground transportation:

  • Gate Guru
  • FlySmart
  • PointInside

Here’s the bottom-line analysis of those apps which I made back then:

The bad news first:  None of these three airport iPhone applications provides air travelers with easy to find information on airport services, although if you use all three together, you might Travel Nerd SFO Listings.75eventually find what you need.

The good news:  Asking a live person, or just using your eyes to check out your surroundings, usually lets you navigate your way around most airports in the U.S.and abroad just as we did before phones became ultra-portable and — sometimes — almost as smart as we mere mortals.

Today I decide to take another such app, “TravelNerd” (Free, iTunes App Store), on a quick “test flight” at home to see if it could provide me—in advance of an actual trip—with useful information about the airports I’d be flying out of or into.

“TravelNerd” only covers 50 airports world-wide, so I chose one (SFO: San Francisco International) which with I’m quite familiar and tested the app’s data against my memory and the SFO Website.

Here’s what I discovered.

Airline Locations by Terminal

TravelNerd says United Airlines is located in Terminal 3 at SFO. That’s partially correct, but only United’s domestic U.S. and Canada flights arrive and depart there. The app fails to tell users that United’s International flights use the airport’s International Terminal.

Terminal Maps

Travel Nerd Terminal MapThe TravelNerd SFO terminal maps are easy to read (although they don’t rotate to landscape view) on an iPad, but are a bit small (even when you zoom in) on an iPhone.

Restaurants, airline ticket counters, ATMs/currency exchanges aren’t shown. For restaurants and amenities, you have to consult a separate menu within the app, which will give you the general location (e.g., the number of the nearest gate).


One of SFO’s “Amenities” TravelNerd lists is the terminal tram know as the AirTrain. The app correctly says that there are two tram lines, but doesn’t give directions on where to catch the tram, and only shows AirTrain stops on the airport “Overview” map, not on individual terminal maps.

Ground Transportation

Travel Nerd Ground TransportationTravelNerd suggests the “Best way to get to…” these four San Francisco Bay Area locations:

  • Union Square
  • Downtown [San Francisco]
  • Silicon Valley
  • Napa Valley

The app gives reasonably detailed information about the transportation options for those areas, but no links to any of the public transportation agencies that serve them.

TravelNerd doesn’t even list airporter buses, such as the one that serves the area where I live.

The SFO Website (www.flysfo.com) provides much more comprehensive ground transportation information for many more locations than does TravelNerd.


TravelNerd lists 11 places to park at or within 5 miles of SFO, including some operated by off-airport private companies not on SFO’s Website. But it fails to list all nearby hotels that have “stay and park” package rates for those who want to overnight near the airport and then leave their cars at the hotel until they return from a vacation and business trip.

The app also doesn’t list the airport’s cellphone lot where there is free parking for those waiting TravelNerd Flight Trackerfor phone calls from arriving passengers who are ready to be picked up outside of one of the airport’s terminals.

Flight Tracker

The TravelNerd Flight Tracker lets users check on the status of flight departing and arriving today or tomorrow for any pair of airports listed in the app. For example, I checked for Alaska Airlines flights from SFO to LAX and the app correctly showed the actual departure and arrival times, as well as flight cancellations.

Travel with TravelNerd?

So, should have “pack” the TravelNerd app into your iPhone before you fly off into the “Wild, Blue Yonder”?

Well, the good news is that the app is free. And it does give you some useful information about a limited number of airports. But the bad news is that you’re may need to button-hole a live person to find what you need to find at the airport.

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