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The three airline alliances -- Star Alliance, SkyTeam and oneworld -- all offer a tailored mobile site or app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch iOS devices, plus in some cases BlackBerry, Nokia and Android handhelds too.
After looking at the offerings earlier in the year, we've re-reviewed the apps from oneworld and Skyteam, plus Star Alliance's mobile-optimised star2go site, to see whether they're really worthwhile taking up valuable space on your device.
The real beauty of these apps and mobile-optimised sites is for checking schedules and routes that involve more than one airline when you don't have access to a computer. You might need a flight at short notice, or your flight might have been delayed, and you're in a cab or standing in line, trying to figure out the best way to get from, say, Sydney to New York.
However, unless you use a travel agent (and despite the benefits, there are also some good reasons not to), it can be tricky to figure out what your options are. Many airline and airline alliance websites aren't set up for optimal viewing on mobile screens, so they've created apps and cut-down mobile sites to get the information out there instead.
Okay, but why wouldn't you just check the app from your usual airline of choice? Well, you might need other options than just your regular airline -- their flights might be full, or might already have departed.
Getting information from the alliance is likely to give you more options, perhaps even on partner airlines that you wouldn't think of checking. Plus -- since all the airlines in an alliance allow mileage earning on their partners -- your frequent flyer balance will benefit.
But how do the options for getting flight information on the go compare?
Our verdict: oneworld's is the best
We think that oneworld's app is the best of the lot in functionality, feature set and -- crucially for mobile devices -- user experience.
While we'd probably still use a laptop for our bookings if we had one around, these new offerings from the alliances will really come into their own during a flight delay or cancellation, when it's always useful to be able to suggest alternative flight options to busy and harassed staff trying to rebook a plane-load of people.
The options available differ by airline. Here's what's available:
- oneworld has an iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch app on the Apple Store, and a BlackBerry app too, as well as a scaled down mobile version of their website, m.oneworld.com
- SkyTeam has an iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch app on the Apple Store
- Star Alliance has no apps, but does have a mobile site (though with limited functionality)
Have a read through our reviews of the offerings from each of the three major alliances:
What do you think? Have you tried out any of the apps? Let us know how you've found them in the comments section below.