You’re traveling and the weather’s being cantankerous. Flights are delayed. You missed one connection, and the next flight is hours from taking off. You’ve arranged things like ground transportation and to meet friends for dinner. Even worse, you’re have a meeting that is now being pushed back. The question is can you easily notify others of your delay?
A service, JustLanded provided the kind of service that was what travelers wanted, letting people know about arrivals and passenger location. Sadly, it shut down this year after a four-year run. The benefit of the service was how effortlessly it worked. Set up who you wanted to send notifications to and, when you landed, the notifications were delivered by SMS.
Today, your options to let people know about your travel situation are many, but what’s going to be the easiest? Of course, you can call everyone and hope you reach them. You could text them one by one. Or it’s even possible create a text group and contact them using SMS, which is perhaps the easiest method to let others know that you’ve landed. But sending SMS’ takes time, and internationally is expensive. But the approach has still has its fans.
“You send them a text message. Hi Mom, I’ve arrived. TTYL. Takes five seconds. Copy and paste the message each time to save two seconds,” said Lynford Morton of PhotoTour DC.
A cost effective workaround is to use widely available messaging apps over Wi-Fi when you land. Apple’s iMessage sends messages for free to other Apple users. Google’s Hangouts and Google Voice both sends texts for free domestically and for low rates internationally.
Two Facebook services, WhatsApp and Messenger allow free messaging and are equally ideally suited for the task. WhatsApp can go a few steps farther. With both sender and recipients using the app, Whatsapp makes it easy to send a voice message or even a map location. The map function is useful when there’s a need to know which door or exit someone’s standing or waiting.
One app that fills the void of JustLanded is TripCase. The app is a combination of many services rolled into one. Users of TripIt will find a lot of the same functionality they like. Just like Tripit, TripCase can auto-import travel plans directly from an email account, or the reservation confirmation can be forwarded and added. TripCase easily shares trip plans with their family, friends and colleagues.
TripCase’s notification feature may be one of their strongest benefits. Using the “SHARE” function within TripCase, a notification is prepared and sent to pre-selected email addresses about the flight’s arrival status. Beyond the notification by email feature that notifies others that someone’s arrived, it’s the Flight Update notification feature that TripCase offers that makes it so valuable. As a flight’s status changes, TripCase sends as they happen flight details making it easier for those meeting someone at the airport or picking them up to know about an early arrival or a late departure.
“I use the app TripCase when flying,” said Keith Shadle of EasySentri. “Without inputting anything, it lets me know when flights are delayed, changes or arrived and I can text that to friends and family.”
Fans of travel booking site, Expedia, have a built-in feature that also shares flight data. The Expedia app receives real-time notifications regarding your trip details and whereabouts and also notifies the people the itinerary has been share with, as long as they are also using the Expedia app.
According to Tarran Street, Head of Technology PR at Expedia, “travelers can share their itinerary from the app to other Expedia app users directly, which will populate their app to include your trip information and provide them with the notifications you receive real time. Additionally, you can share your itinerary from the app which will send a link to a web version of your itinerary.”.
Other solutions exist too. Most airlines now offer flight tracking services. Those involve setting up the service for each flight and use a combination of SMS and Email as delivery options. Unfortunately, while the services like FlightStats, TripIt, Expedia, and Tripcase seem to deliver alerts and notifications in real-time, the experience with airline-specific notifications seems to vary and lag making them less useful for those handling the airport pick ups.
Andy took his first flight at age 14 when he was working in media relations for a professional sports team in Philadelphia, and since then he’s never stopped traveling. Named “Business Traveler of the Year” by Business Traveler Magazine in 2015, for the past twelve years he has traveled over 200 days a year, often for a month or more. In addition to travel, Andy has been a heard and seen as a technology correspondent on Business Rockstars, KenRadio, for the BBC’s ClickOnline and his own online sites, VoIPWatch, WineScene and WorkingAnywhere. Often quoted on travel, marketing and technology, he holds a degree in Journalism from Temple University, and is CEO of Comunicano, Inc., a global value strategy agency, working for start-ups and companies in transition, with 42 exits to his credit in the last 16 years.