12/20/2013 11:08 am ET Updated Feb 19, 2014

3 Smartphone Apps for a Smarter Flight


Benét Wilson is the godmother of aviation journalism. Affectionately known as Auntie Benét by her followers, you can find her writing on the Aviation Queen blog and on the I Love Sitting in 1st/Biz Class group on Facebook. In an industry known for its oversized egos, Wilson is the rare exception -- a genuinely affable person who is always willing to help a traveler with an air travel question.

What makes her the world's smartest traveler? You mean, other than the fact that she knows everything about air travel? Perhaps it's the ability to translate it into practical, actionable advice for the average passenger, instead of talking down to them (read any popular airline blog and you'll know what I mean). "Tap your inner Girl Scout and always be prepared," she advises. "As a frequent traveler, I know that if something can go wrong, it will."

To that end, she recommends three apps for your smartphone. First, download NextFlight, which lets travelers who have missed their flight or had it canceled quickly access what other flights are available. "That information is golden to phone agents who may not want to do this research," she says. GateGuru, which offers detailed airport terminal maps; and FlightAware, which tracks more than 100,000 commercial and general aviation flights around the world every day using data from airlines, airports and the FAA, also make her must-have list. Now you know what Auntie Benét knows.

The World's Smartest Traveler is a weekly series about the visionaries who inspire us to travel smarter. Its curator, Christopher Elliott, is the author of the upcoming book, How to Be The World's Smartest Traveler (National Geographic Books). Want to nominate someone for this feature? Send Chris a note.