By David Ngo
Nov 18, 2021
BY NOW, SMARTPHONES HAVE BECOME so synonymous with seamless travel that even elder millennials hardly remember how we ever got anywhere without them. From downloading boarding passes to showing proof of COVID vaccinations to telling us how to ask airport security where the gate is in Bahasa, palm-sized technology has forever changed the way we fly for the better. While the odds are high that you already have a million and one apps on your phone, these new ones for air travel are worth the megabytes.
What is it? A global loyalty program that lets you accumulate points at airports and convert them into hotel bookings, air miles, or vouchers that can be redeemed at retailers.
Who’s behind it? Plaza Premium Group.
Why do you want it? Who was it who said membership has its privileges? Plaza Premium is trying to integrate all your airport-related needs in one handy app packed with incentives. Smart Traveller members can buy access to Plaza Premium Lounges around the world with savings of up to 50 percent off standard walk-in rates. You are entitled to at least 10 percent off rates in Aerotels, the group’s revolutionary in-terminal hotels that offer reservations in hourly blocks, and 15 percent off airport concierge meet-and-greets for those who like to be fast-tracked through the terminal (who doesn’t?)—buggy service included.
The Smart Traveller point reward system is connected to more than 1,000 curated travel and lifestyle products, plus there are a number of helpful features to make your airport lounge experience even smoother. Users can take advantage of Smart-Order, a contactless service for ordering food in the lounge, while the Lounge-to-Go feature makes it easy to pick up food to go, so you never have to stress about missing your flight.
Where can you use it? More than 50 Plaza Premium Lounges and Plaza Premium First brands around the world, as well as Flight Club in Malaysia and Root98 in Hong Kong.
What is it? A streamlined online travel agency with more than 20 airlines around Asia-Pacific.
Who’s behind it? AirAsia.
Why do you want it? Even if the app only featured flights by the Malaysian budget airline, it would be more than worth the download. Since Super App has more than 700 airline partners, including Air France, Air Canada, Qatar Airways, KLM, Philippine Airlines, Bamboo Airways, and flydubai, it can whisk you all over the place. And without your having to download all of those air travel apps individually.
Where can you use it? AirAsia claims their app can reach 3,000 destinations. While the focus is very much on Southeast Asia for now, in the future, it plans to offer deals around the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
What is it? The first app to offer airline rewards on VAT/GST refunds from tax-free shopping abroad.
Why do you want it? For those who habitually shop during their travels, this is a great way to save big bucks. For every US$100 on any VAT or GST refund in 50 countries, you can upsize the value of your tax refund by 25 percent and earn 4,167 Skywards Miles. Now through March 31, 2022, you can earn 5,001 Skywards Miles for every US$100 that you spend.
Where can you use it? It goes without saying that Emirates Skywards Miles go a long way towards getting anywhere, with Dubai sitting luxuriously at a global crossroads. The airline also regularly wins awards for outstanding service and features some of the cushiest First Class accommodations in the business, meaning that the cash you drop at the duty free shop could land you in some pretty sweet seats.