Recently, the unexpected occurred which required me to get plane tickets in a hurry. As I’m just finished switching jobs, but not yet done with the pains of switching jobs in the finance department, I needed to get the cheapest possible tickets for my family budget.
I ended up using points to get a ticket on one airline on the way to my destination, and actual money to purchase a ticket on a different airline to get the least expensive ticket at the time frame that would work for me on the return flight. As a result of my mad flight machinations, both tickets also go (or come from) different airports…I fly from Seattle to San Jose, but I fly back from San Francisco to Seattle.
I’d heard about TripIt from an internet ad (and you know those are always right and never lie to you or anything) and I thought that it might be nice to have a single program help me with the intricacies of delayed flights, knowing my flight numbers, etc. I also imagine the TSA is going to be seriously interested in me taking two one way flights, and it might be nice to have all my info in my phone where it’s easy to find every time they want to talk about it.
So you all are the beneficiaries of my recent shenanigans. This is Part 1, where I talk about what TripIt says it will do, review what the free version gives you, what the paid version (99 cents) gives you (hint: it has to do with a lack of ads) and the Pro version says it will give you.
Part 2 will be in July after I’ve gone on my emergency trip and I report if TripIt was any better than just having Gmail queued up to my flight info.
Tripit comes in, as I noted, the three flavors. I went with the free flavor (as noted above: finances are tight). As I understand it, the only difference in the free version versus the 99 cent “paid” version is that there are no ads in the paid version. That’s it. I blew the secret kind of early on that.
This is pretty much the worst of the ads (although in the actual working version you get the dates and the flight info, I took that out because not all of you need or want to know when I’m coming and going).
But, I get ahead of myself.
To get TripIt, go to the Google Play store and download it and install it. Then you can either manually enter a trip, or you can do what I did and live life dangerously (although less dangerously as I’ve tried it and – so far- nothing bad has happened) and allow TripIt access to your email; in so doing, it scans your emails, finds flight information, checks to make sure it’s current (for example, that trip you took 4 years ago isn’t going to show up, but the one you booked for six months from now will, provided you have an email confirmation), and then plugs it into the program. There appears that there’s a way to forward emails from your inbox with your itinerary information to TripIt and it can build trip information for you in the program that way, but I honestly couldn’t figure out how to do that and opted for the “please read my mail for me, don’t make me hurt you for violating my privacy” method, instead. For a full explanation on the forwarding of emails methodology that involves gnomes, you can check out their “secret sauce” video here. Gnomes are usually good.
Now, while I’m getting free car rides while I’m on my trip, and I’m couch surfing, as well, TripIt will also organize your hotel, travel, and other needs (ferry, train,etc.) if you have an email confirmation (or want to hand enter the info). This is pretty awesome to me, because my husband typically takes all that info, distills it into a word document with the occasional word spelled incorrectly, and then prints out directions and other interesting tidbits about where we’re going and he’s not coming on this trip. So, I already have high hopes for TripIt because I can already see all my data on my upcoming two flights.
Once you’ve got the data in there, you just click the flight info (in the above image, it would be the Seattle to San Jose link) and it records all that pesky stuff my husband usually copies and pastes or hand types. It also provides easy ways to share this itinerary info with other people through Facebook, Google Plus, or just emailing them. You can also add TripIt information into your Google Calendar (it gets access when you give it permissions with Gmail, then you go into settings and select “Add TripIt to Google Calendar”).
To see a list of all your upcoming stuff (and not just the first in the list) you can click on the “upcoming” button. Then it gives you links to your upcoming activities (as one would hopefully expect).
So far, my issues with it are the amount of extra clicking I seem to have to do. It’s not enough to click what you want, you usually have to click to get a little further in. The extra itinerary info is helpful in that it stores your flight number there, but unless you have Pro, it’s not really all that additionally helpful unless you want to put in notes yourself.
And that leads us to Pro. Pro costs $49 per year. Its advertising swears that it will notify you of flight delays. It will help you find alternate flights if yours is cancelled or delayed too long. It will keep track of your rewards points all in one place (for example, I have points on Alaska and Virgin, and right now I have to log into their respective Apps or websites to see how many I have).
Pro also indicates it will help you get refunds if it notices the price of the seat you’ve taken on that flight has dropped, which often happens without most of us ever actually noticing. Most seats on a commercial airline are sold at vastly different rates to the people to whom the butts in the seats belong, depending on when they bought their ticket and where they bought their ticket. Buying in an allotment to a discount site can net you one price, buying well in advance directly can net you another, and calling a representative and talking to them on the phone can net you a different one…and lots of other factors. This app will track the price of your seat and if it can find it commercially available through the Internets, it will help you get refunded the difference in price.
The existing ability to notify people of your flights is manual in the free tool. With Pro, you can set up automatic alerts regarding flights (though I am not sure how) and apparently there “VIP Travel benefits” with Hertz and Regus Gold if you purchase Pro.
Pro has a 30 day free trial that requires a credit card; I am always wary of “trials” that only end when you call and cancel, which I’m notoriously awful about remembering to do.
On the whole if it does all it says it does, Pro seems pretty awesome if you fly more than twice a year. Obviously if you have a job that has you flying for business once or month or more, it looks like a great tool for not going completely crazy (automatically notifying your spouse when your plane will be late might save some marriages).
I typically fly between two and four times a year, so it could be of use to me. Saving money on the price change of your seat could, for example, easily cover the $49 cost. As noted above, however, I’m living life on the cheap for now, and I want to see how well it runs me through my upcoming flights before I make any further investments.
More on TripIt when I get back. As always, leave a comment if there is an app you want me to review.