USA Today AutoPilot: Travel Organization on the iPhone

Going on a trip? It seems that in an App Store packed with travel planners, there are tons of different options to choose from. What makes one better than the other and what makes it worthy of a home screen placement?

Hopefully, we can help with that. USA Today AutoPilot is an ad-supported app that puts your travel itinerary all in one place, which makes the hassle of travel easier. But is it worth the download? Fortunately, we have the answer.

Putting it to the Test

We could go through and list all of the features of AutoPilot, but timing, as they say, is everything. My wife’s grandmother was coming into town recently, so I decided to put the program through its paces. I knew she had a flight scheduled, so I began by hitting the plus button on the home screen, and starting a new trip itinerary. In this case, I was just organizing a flight, so I chose that option.

Organize your trip with ease using AutoPilot

Organize your trip with ease using AutoPilot

Once I had that entered in, it was time to input the flight info. This is one of those steps that can be frustrating in other apps if you don’t know your airport’s three-character code, but with AutoPilot, I just entered Phoenix – my home airport – and it gave me a list of all of the airports in the Phoenix Metro area. After selecting Sky Harbor, I moved on to enter in the rest of the info, including the flight number and date. Just like that, the trip was planned. Had I wanted to add lodging or a car rental to the list, I could’ve done so right there as well.

Making Sure it Works

A few hours later, I started checking the app to see how it was going. After opening up the trip itinerary, I clicked on the Flight Tracker option to see where my wife’s grandmother was in relation to Phoenix. At the time, I was occupied with another task, and I wanted to make sure that I would be there. First, I saw the scheduled time, where I noticed that the flight was good for 2:55 pm. Then I check the flight map, and I noticed in the bottom corner that the flight might be ahead of time, so I decided to schedule my afternoon accordingly.

Flight tracking live on the iPhone

Flight tracking live on the iPhone

Sure enough, everything worked out fine. The flight came in almost 20 minutes before scheduled, but since I had the app on hand, I was prepared. I picked up my wife’s grandmother at the airport, and I was the hero of the day. Yay for the App Store!

Now this isn’t the only time I’ve used the program. A few months back, my wife was flying into Las Vegas to meet me for a work conference, and I entered in all of her info into the app so that I had everything organized. This worked substantially better than digging through my e-mail to find her confirmation letter, which is almost always a nightmare to do. I also used it on another trip of mine, but this time I put in my rental car info as well. Same deal, worked like a charm.

Design & Usability

If an app isn’t easy to use, then I don’t want anything to do with it. It should be easy enough to figure out without any instructions, yet be able to do all of the tasks I require without hesitation. Fortunately, AutoPilot is pretty user friendly, with no complex menus or hard to use interfaces. I was able to input  all of my various travel plans pretty easily, without much in the way of complications.

Check for delays and find travel accommodations or requirements from your iPhone

Check for delays and find travel accommodations or requirements from your iPhone

Better yet, it looks good. Yes, it’s ad supported, but the ads don’t get in the way like they seem to on other applications. The color scheme is easy on the eyes, and nothing jumps out as jarring or out of place. It may be free, but they didn’t cut corners on the design, which is appreciated.

The Competition

The App Store has an entire travel section, so there’s plenty of other options for your money. American Express has the American Express Travel App, which is handy if you’re an Amex card holder, but not so much otherwise. Flight Track Pro looks neat, but it’s $9.99, so if you’re not a frequent flyer, you may want to pass on the pro model. There’s also TripCase, which is similar but frankly, doesn’t look quite as pretty. Frankly, you could throw a rock and hit a travel app in the store, so there’s a lot of things out there to choose from.

The Verdict

I don’t travel as much as I’d like to, mostly because it’s so stressful. Trying to coordinate all of my plans in one place involved a manilla folder and a lot of swearing. Once I found AutoPilot though, I was able to combine everything without requiring any folders or any extra curse words, and it made travelling just that much easier. These aren’t just faint words of praise either; I really do like the thing enough to endorse it. Really, I don’t have any major complaints about the program, and nothing but praise. Isn’t that what we all want from an app?


Put all of your travel plans in one place, making it easy to organize your information.