· Airport Scanner for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad
Never have we ever spent more time gaming on our iPhone than when we've got a holiday day off. Ideally you'll want to get addicted to an iPhone game for a few days, not a few weeks, and Airport Scanner is perfect, not to mention topical.
We already extolled its virtues back in September, but it remains our top choice for passing time, no matter the situation.
Where you'll use it: At an airport gate, waiting for your flight; In the kitchen, waiting for bread dough to rise/cookies to bake/dinner to be ready; In a long taxi/train/car ride from the airport to home; or, our personal favorite, at a required visit to a relative's house, when everyone else is playing with children/pets.
Cost on iTunes: $0.99
· Hotel Tonight for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad
This app has saved our ass so much in 2012. It specializes in super-last-minute, night-of hotel stays, and releases that day's slashed rates at noon. From there, you can browse about three hotels per city (and they're in so many US cities, the UK and Europe now), view details (like how much the WiFi costs) and book in under two minutes. We've used it for airport hotels to design hotels during the peak days of Art Basel Miami, and it has only continued to impress.
Bonus! If you sign up using the invite link, you start out with $25 (or £15 or €20) (and yeah, we get it too).
When you'll use it: After missing the last flight out; the moment you can't stand sleeping in your childhood bedroom any longer; if a friend or family member unexpectedly drops in and can't/don't want to house then for the night; if you spontaneously hopped a flight or roadtripped away.
Cost on iTunes: FREE
Yes, the Transportation Security Administration has its own app. Yes, you should download it if you've ever had any questions about what can/cannot be taken onboard or checked in your luggage. They tackle the tough issues, like flying with a cake or cable cutters. It's more than just a FAQ and we'd say it fills in the gaps of GateGuru.
When you'll use it: your aunt is asking if she can pack the leftover pie for you to take; you received a jar of anything liquid-y/gel-y/powder-y for Christmas; you're running late to the airport and want an approximation of checkpoint wait times; a storm is threatening and you want to watch for airport delays; any family members insist on getting to the airport 4+ hours early and you want to set them straight.
Cost on iTunes: FREE