There's not a whole lot that one company can do to make the hellish miasma of American air travel better, but bless them, Southwest Airlines is trying. The latest update to the company's official Android app tweaks the interface yet again (the second time in a year), and adds a mobile boarding pass to save you just in case you forgot to print it out on old-fashioned dead trees before leaving.
Apparently the mobile boarding pass, which lets you display your phone or tablet to board the plane instead of a printed pass from your computer or the airline check-in counter, has been in testing earlier this year.
For a long time now, Southwest Airlines' Android app has been awful. I mean just lamentably bad. No, seriously, here are some screenshots of the app before today's update... and oddly, Southwest hasn't even updated the screenshots in the Play Store.
See? It's like someone got the only app developer from TWA to work on it. The app has been given a complete overhaul with today's update, bringing both the interface and the capability up to snuff. But as frequent US airline travelers will know, even when you get to fly first class, it's still a pretty crappy experience.
Yes, the interface has been updated to conform at least somewhat to current trends, if not Holo design guidelines.
Planning a trip? If you're going to fly JetBlue, your experience will be a little bit better thanks to the new Android app update. Version 2 is live in the Play Store and it includes a few useful changes, among them virtual boarding passes (finally).
The UI update isn't a dramatic shift, but it cleans up a few bits of design around the booking and flight tracking interfaces. The headlining update is obviously the virtual boarding passes. You won't need to worry about printing out paper passes – just pull up the barcode on your phone. Although, if your phone goes missing you're going to be in a completely new world of pain.
Delta Airlines customers with Android or iOS devices now have one more awesome feature to use with the airline's Fly Delta app – the ability to track their checked luggage as if it were a package, a feature previously only available online or at Delta customer service desks.
The app's latest update includes a rather sophisticated tracking system, which will scan your claim tag and automatically update with the location of your bags, ensuring that you always know where your bags are, and can be sure that they are traveling along without issue.
In addition to tracking your bags, the app will notify you of which carousel holds your luggage, greatly cutting down on time spent looking around or impatiently waiting for the arrival screen to update.