A bit too late as the holiday season is mostly over in Germany I found an interesting article on some helpful little program making travel a lot easier to organize by NY Times’ technology columnist, David Pogue on Pogue’s Posts.

Here are his top tips for maximum flying efficiency and minimum misery:

1. TripIt.com

Tripit is a free Web site. Every time you book a flight, hotel or rental car online, you forward the e-mail confirmation to plans@tripit.com. Magically, the service parses the confirmation e-mail and records all of the details: confirmation numbers, times, dates, flight numbers and so on.

The best part: You can subscribe to your own Tripit feed, meaning that your computer or cell phone calendar will record those flight details automatically. If you’re still typing your flights and travel details into your computer calendar or phone by hand, you’re wasting a lot of time.


2. FlightTrack Pro

The app costs 10 USD for iPhone, iPad or Android but David thinks it’s worth it: It shows every detail of every flight: gate, time delayed, airline phone number, where the flight is on the map, and more. It knows more, and knows it sooner, than the actual airlines do. Or more than they’ll admit. For example, for any flight, one tap shows you its on-time record. You’d be shocked at how rarely certain flights take off or land on time.

It auto-syncs with Tripit.com. Once again, you’re spared having to do any manual data entry at all.


3. Check in from your phone

Why do airlines have an iPhone or Android app for checking in? Is displaying a bar code on your phone really so much better than clutching the little boarding pass paper printed out by the kiosk at the airport?

There are some advantages with certain airlines: with the Delta app e.g. you can open the app — the day before your flight or even on the way to the airport — and it automatically shows the flight you’re about to take. It’s much smarter than most airline kiosks, which make you manually enter your flight information before printing out your boarding pass.

No matter which airline’s app you’re using, you handle your phone just as you would handle the boarding pass. For example, you show it to the security person who monitors the entrance to the security line. When you get to the actual Transportation Security Administration rep who checks your ID and boarding pass, you put your phone face down on a little glass scanner at the rep’s little desk, and you’re ushered right on through.

Also, there’s little chance that you’ll lose your boarding pass.


4. Kayak

Kayak (free for iPhone and Android) offers a beautiful, fast app for searching flights — all airlines. It doesn’t sell tickets, just helps you find out what flights are available Usinf the Time filter you can drag a slider to narrow down the hours of takeoff or landing that you’d consider.


5. FlightAware

FlightAware.com tracks a flight’s progress. (Similar: The Flightwise app for iPhone or Android.) This isn’t necessarily a benefit to you, the traveler — but if you’re the one who’s supposed to pick up somebody at the airport, it’s a must. You’ll see exactly where that plane is (on a map), and exactly when it will be landing.

More information on this topic can be found on Pogue’s Posts.