Update on March 13, 2015: British Airways and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced support for the Apple Watch. Details below.
The Apple Watch wants to change the way you shop, talk, exercise, and no surprise — travel. During a keynote presentation on March 9, Apple VP Kevin Lynch demoed a few examples of how users could utilize Apple Watch apps while traveling, such as ordering an Uber car, boarding an American Airlines plane, and unlocking a hotel room door at a W Hotel.
While the Apple Watch and other wearables are still nascent, unproven technology, several top-tier travel-related companies have already announced support. Here’s a look at some of those that will be ready in time for when the Apple Watch goes on sale on April 24.
Air New Zealand
The Air New Zealand app receives flight information, displays boarding passes, and sends notifications like boarding calls. Having your watch ping you when boarding begins could help passengers avoid missing flights, and help airlines expedite the process. The app will also have a countdown clock for flight departure. In Air New Zealand lounges, users can even order coffee from the Watch.
EasyJet claims to be the first low-cost carrier to launch a Watch app. The European airline’s app works similarly to Air New Zealand’s, but users can share information about their flights via Twitter and Facebook. They can also peek at info like pre-departure and check-in info, local currency exchange rates, weather at destination, and flight status via Watch’s Glances feature (by swiping up from the bottom). The app will be available in five languages at launch.
Marriott didn’t unveil many details, but it will have an app ready when the Watch goes on sale. Guests can check in or be notified when a room is ready. Marriott did say it would be the first major hotel company to accept Apple Pay, which Watch wearers can use as a payment method.
You can’t book flights, but Apple Watch users can use TripAdvisor’s app to find travel-related information such as restaurants and landmarks. Using your location, the app can display things for you to do nearby. We hope it will integrate airline seat maps from SeatGuru into the app eventually.
American’s app received a big plug during Apple’s keynote, but the functions demonstrated are pretty much what we can expect from other airlines. The app notifies you when your flight is about to take off, and gives you real-time info if there are any changes. The app lets you check-in to a flight, shows all relevant details about a flight, displays your boarding pass, and arrival information such as connections and baggage claim.
SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Starwood, the hotel company that owns brands like Sheraton, Westin, and W, goes beyond displaying reservation details. It lets you bypass the front desk completely. After checking in, the app shows your room number, which you can head straight to and use the watch’s NFC function to unlock the door.
If you booked your flight and hotel via Expedia, you can use its Watch app for flight info like gate and departure time, but you’ll still need to use another app for boarding. You can also use it to check in and check out of hotels.
Need a car to or from the airport? Like the smartphone app, Uber’s Watch app shows you available cars for hire that are nearby. It lets you request a car, and it will display relevant information such as a picture of the car and the license plate number, as well a photo of the driver and his/her rating.
If you’re traveling to a destination where you don’t speak the local language, Babbel’s app might come in handy. Using your location, it displays words that might be useful for that situation. For example, if you’re at the airport, the app will show words pertaining to that environment, such as “departure” and “luggage,” or foods that might be served as a restaurant.
Citymapper is a public-transit app that covers many major world cities, including London, New York, San Francisco, Paris, and Berlin. For its Apple Watch app, Citymapper will use your present location to help you find the quickest route via subway or bus. It even shows you how to get to a station and bus stop, and taps you when you’ve reached a stop. It’s perfect for getting around unfamiliar cities.
BA joins what will most likely be a growing list of airlines supporting the Watch. As with the aforementioned apps, BA’s shows a passenger’s detailed summary that includes flight number, status, countdown to departure, and weather at the destination, in addition to checking in and gate notification. BA lounges at London Heathrow are equipped with iBeacon, so a welcome message will flash on your watch when you enter the lounge.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)
IHG’s app won’t let you check into any of its properties or find you lodging, but it could help you get around in a foreign country. The company is porting its IHG Translator App to the new device. Users can speak into the watch to have it translated in real-time, or pick from common phrases. Thirteen languages cover nine countries, and are even displayed phonetically to help you pronounce the words.