June 29, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The summer travel season is in full effect, so now might be a good time to tell you about a new Android app that aims to make your trek though the airport a more sensible experience. GateGuru is a travel companion that provides information on nearby airports and the trips that you take through them. It provides information, shortcuts, and a simple way to connect.
The benefits of GateGuru (Android 2.2+ or higher) start before you even arrive to the airport. Thanks to the ability to link to TripIt or Kayak, users can have their travel information readily displayed within the app, saving time on reaching for confirmation info printed on paper. (Yes, people still use paper! When are you guys going to stop doubting me?) Once at the airport, you’ll get a breakdown on all the important things: where’s a good place to find something to eat? Where should I check in? How early should I arrive?
GateGuru members leave tips about airports, so users can know that Airline X provides slow service during busy early morning flights, so it may be in your best interest to arrive sooner than normal. Once you make it past security, GateGuru provides a listing of restaurants and stores that includes user-sourced ratings and reviews. It even provides tips about Wi-Fi availability and where to get money. During my testing of GateGuru yesterday, I found that members are very accurate in their reviews and tips about my home airports of FLL and MIA.
Social media addicts will also be happy to know that GateGuru can announce your check-in – with an optional comment – on Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, and Twitter simultaneously. The app even has its own built-in social component because “High Flyers” features a leaderboard. Points are awarded for checking-in, sharing to networks, adding tips, and other activities that are tracked globally or within your friends. This feature will only appeal to frequent travelers because becoming “Captain” of an airport requires a great deal of activity and doesn’t provide any reward other than bragging rights.
GateGuru seems like a great travel app in the making, but it is not great yet. The competition aspect can be gamed because I managed to “check-in” to the airport despite being 30 miles north, and the information listed – while typically accurate in my case, at least – is sometimes incomplete. I quickly recognized that a couple of retail points in my local airports are not listed, so users aren’t always getting the full-picture. However, the database can easily grow and users are encouraged to participate by adding reviews, tips, updating current listings, and helping paint the most accurate picture possible. As someone who spends a ridiculous amount of time in airports, I can appreciate GateGuru’s efforts to make flying more informative and comforting before getting on the plane.