When a FlyerTalker wondered, “if anyone had any recommendations for apps or games to help get the time in?” on an upcoming long-haul flight, the world’s largest expert traveler community came through. While some suggestions were a bit on the nose and a few were decidedly low-fi, there are more than enough brilliant ideas to keep us from ever being bored on a flight again.
For FlyerTalk member Rufin, British Airways inflight entertainment (IFE) wasn’t going to cut it on an upcoming flight from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), but not to fear because the FlyerTalk community was there with helpful suggestions for apps to help pass the time.
The Usual Suspects
Not surprisingly, many of the same entertainment apps we use in the comfort of home, make great travel companions as well. Although streaming video isn’t ideal when flying, many of the best streaming sites also allow for shows and movies to be downloaded and watched offline later. Like the public at large, FlyerTalkers are big fans of sites and apps such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Sky Go and BBC Player to name a few.
Members caution that sites like Netflix and BBC Player are notorious for geo-blocking content, (because of strict licensing agreements) which is not ideal when traveling internationally. On the other hand, Amazon Prime allows most purchased content to be accessed from anywhere, even if that content is accessed while overseas.
The BBC Radio app is a surprise favorite among many FlyerTalkers. The app allows access to an impressive library of BCC radio programming with fewer geography-based distribution rights concerns than many of the video streaming sites with limited options for downloading movies.
“One less obvious App that has given me a lot of enjoyment is the BBC’s Radio App, which works with fewer licensing issues compared to BBC iPlayer,” corporate-wage-slave offers helpfully. “You can hoover up programmes from all of the BBC’s stations and download them for the flight.”
For passengers less concerned about finding an escape while traveling, the Flyover Country app comes highly recommended by those in the know. For those occasions when the IFE system won’t provide real-time route tracking, the app offers a sense of place and progress while jetting halfway around the globe. The Pocket Earth app also provides AV geeks with current location, airspeed and even altitude.
“Preload maps of the flightpath and the app uses GPS to track progress (so works in flight-safe mode),” FlyerTalker FredtheBulbousSquidge explains. “Useful for when flying airlines without IFE/screens with moving maps. Like a lot of my short-haul BA.”
There was a time not so long ago when reading the inflight magazine cover-to-cover was a routine chore of each and every passenger. Today, apps like Readly and Zinio allow air travelers to choose among thousands of magazines which can then be enjoyed on the plane.
The best apps in the world won’t help ease the monotony of a long flight if the passenger doesn’t have the right equipment to take advantage of the content available. Frequent flyers swear by their Kindles – noting that the device allows access to an impressive collection of free e-books along with purchases. Other road warriors swear by their noise-canceling headphones and vow never to leave home without them. Other FlyerTalkers insist that an iPad offers the same experience as an e-reader with much greater versatility.
PlayOn is like a DVR that you can bring on a plane. The site allows subscribers to record streaming shows to save and watch later from a remote location – even an aisle seat on a transatlantic flight. Subscription to the service is offered either as a club-based version or desktop version. “I use www.playon.tv to record programmes from a number of channels for offline viewing when flying,” FlyerTalk member golfmad explained in an unsolicited testimonial.
For those air travelers who would rather get some shuteye rather than watch the latest Tom Cruise vehicle, Pzizz may be the most unique app suggested by FlyerTalk members. Rather than the insomnia that sometimes results from changing timezones and staring at computer screens, the app is designed to actually help travelers to synchronize their internal clocks.
“Pzizz has changed my life,” worldwidedreamer writes. “Back as a wee global traveler jet lag was the bane of my existence; this app cured my jet lag. Pzizz uses neurolinguistic programming to induce a deep sleep making even an ultra long haul pass quickly. For what it is worth I pay for the premium version, although the free version more than meets my needs.”
There is an app for podcast addicts and it is called Podcast Addict. This app is a must-have for anyone who enjoys podcasts. As an added benefit, listening to podcasts inflight is at least as likely as Pzizz to help air travelers doze off and arrive at their destinations well-rested and jet lag free.
Support Your Local Library
The best part about apps offered through public libraries is that the content is almost always entirely free of charge. The options available might surprise those travelers who haven’t visited their local library in recent years.
“My public library provides me access to OverDrive and Hoopla, which let me download (for free, that’s the key) audiobooks, and some TV programs,” Gig 103 points out. “We also have access to Zinio which has magazines.”
Benefits of having a library card will vary depending on locale. Some libraries now even let cardholders borrow Kindles loaded with dozens of books, which should provide plenty of entertainment for the longest of flights (ground delays included!).
For an impressive number of FlyerTalkers, there is no substitute for a real book (made of paper) when traveling. A paperback from the airport bookstore has the added advantage of not having to be powered down or stowed during takeoff and landing.
What are the essential apps for killing time at 40,000 feet? Is a transatlantic flight the perfect opportunity to binge-watch television shows? Are weary flyers better off resting their eyes and listening to a book on tape or a podcast instead? Or is it time to get back to basics and simply enjoy a paperback from the newsstand in the terminal? This FlyerTalk Travel Technology forum has all the answers.
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