Best iOS Travel App 'TripIt' Just Got Better

TripIt's iPhone app now presents upcoming travel reservations and information in card form. The change is a welcome one, according to CIO.com blogger James A. Martin, but unfortunately the new features are only available (for now) to iPhone and iPod touch users.

Borrowing a page from Google’s playbook, TripIt’s iPhone app (free) now presents upcoming travel info in "card" form, not unlike Google's Now service. You can swipe through the cards to see airline and hotel information, and car rental reservations, at any time. In addition, the app displays relevant cards automatically as you travel. When you land, for example, your hotel and rental car cards pop up. It’s a welcome update to an already excellent travel management app.

TripIt iOS iPhone

When you open the updated TripIt app on your iPhone, you see the first segment of your next upcoming trip. A flight itinerary card shows departure and arrival times; flight duration; confirmation number; terminal and gate (if that info is available); seat; and airline and booking information. It’s all there in a single easy-to-read card.

One feature I love (for TripIt Pro users) is "Alt. Flights." Tap it, and you can quickly see other flights to your destination, as well as how many seats are available for each flight segment. By default, you see options for the same airline, but there’s also an "All airlines" tab. It's not a new feature, but it’s one that's definitely worth a look if you’re new to TripIt.

In another bow to Google, the TripIt iPhone app also links by default to Google Maps for maps and directions. Your rental car card, for example, includes a map to the pickup location. Click the map, and you’re taken to the Google Maps app (if you’ve installed it) for turn-by-turn directions. Those who distrust Apple’s Maps will be happy about that change, though in my recent experiences, Google Maps doesn’t always provide better directions.

As of this writing, an Android TripIt update is "in the cards," according to a company spokesperson, but no launch date is available. The new cards feature doesn’t work on iPads.

I’m not a big fan of paying annual subscription fees. But I’ve made an exception for TripIt’s paid service ($49/year).

The service automatically sends travel notifications to your iOS, Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone device, and it can be a real time saver. I’ve found myself rushing from one airport gate to another, only to receive a TripIt Pro alert that my gate has changed. Those alerts often save me from running to the wrong gate or from going to the incorrect carousel for my bag.

You can also receive TripIt Pro alerts when a seat you want becomes available or your airfare is eligible for a refund. And you can automatically share travel plans with others. I don't find TripIt Pro’s frequent flyer award tracking feature useful, but overall it's a terrific service for frequent—even occasional—flyers.  

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