Traveling with Apps

Last month I took my second airplane trip post-Covid. This time I went international, from Canada to the US. To expedite the many processes involved, I downloaded three apps and pre-booked a time with security. All in the hopes of making the painful parts faster with less waiting and aggravation. For the most part, it did expedite a few things, such as immigration on both sides. I couldn’t really tell with security and the check-in process still seemed kind of clunky.

The three apps included the airline, mobile passport control (for crossing into the States) and ArriveCAN (for coming back to Canada). I booked time slots with security both ways. The first line wasn’t that busy so I’m not sure if the reservation made a difference. On the return trip, the security line was long so maybe it helped a tiny bit, but we still had to wait.

The airline app offered some neat perks. For example, I could check the status of my flight and the inbound flight. This was a nice feature. By tracking the inbound flight I had a sense if there was going to be a delay. The app included maps of the airport terminals. However, the app didn’t help much with the check in process.

The immigration apps seemed to make things a little bit faster. Having filled out my immigration information on the app allowed me to jump to the front of the line on both sides. However, I felt annoyed to continually pull out my phone to show somebody. At the self-serve immigration kiosk, I entered my info and received a printed receipt. I showed the paper receipt to leave immigration and then handed it to an agent leaving customs. More juggling with the phone and papers to get through the process.

On the whole, it did make some parts faster. However, I found navigating through the many apps and locating the right information quickly to be a little cumbersome. When I’m moving around carrying lots of things, having paper (e.g., boarding pass) can sometimes be quicker. Otherwise I was taking my phone in and out of my bag, mostly because pockets aren’t big enough in women’s clothing, unlocking the screen, searching for the app, adjusting brightness, also pulling out my passport, etc. In other words, it wasn’t the seamless, high-tech solution I was expecting, but offered some promising aspects.

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