Carry an airport departure board in your pocket

(MoneyWatch) Any trip to the airport includes standing in front of flight boards that display arrival and departure times, along with gate information. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've raced from an arrival gate to the nearest flight board -- often quite some distance away -- to check on my connecting flight status and departure gate.

No more. Now I carry all that information in my pocket. FlightBoard is a mobile Apple app that channels all those arrival and departure information to your phone.

The app mimics the look of an actual arrival or departure board. You get a list of airline and flight numbers, along with city, gate and time. You can switch between arrivals and departures with a single tap and refresh the data manually or let the app grab the latest boards on its own, every few minutes.

Unfortunately, the narrow profile of the iPhone means that FlightBoard has to abbreviate everything. For instance, DL is Delta, and LHR stands for London Heathrow. That might be frustrating to anyone who isn't a walking encyclopedia of airport abbreviations, but there are a couple of quick fixes. Turn your iPhone sideways, and airlines automatically expand to take advantage of the additional screen width. Or you can tap any entry to get a full description of the flight. And if you are using an iPad, there are no abbreviations at all.

FlightBoard lets you choose from local airports based on your current location, or you can search for any airport worldwide.

This is one of the most liberating travel apps I've encountered in a long time. Now I can refer to my phone for arrival and departure information rather than rushing to board. Best of all, it's free.

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