Tech survival guide for the stranded holiday traveler

November 27, 2013, 10:00 AM UTC
NEW YORK, NY – Passengers wait to board their plane at the Delta terminal in LaGuardia Airport as they travel on the day before Thanksgiving on November 21, 2012 in New York, United States.

FORTUNE — Few situations are more irksome than toughing it out in a packed airport for a delayed flight. That plastic-backed seating is uncomfortable, those power outlets a precious commodity. And when it comes to figuring out your ETA, airline employees sometimes know as much as you do.

But waiting doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience, thanks to a slew of apps, devices, and accessories that can be downloaded via the airport’s wireless Internet or snagged from that gadget shop in the terminal.

For that flight status …

The website FlightAware takes a lot of the guesswork out of process. Travelers may track flights but also check out the so-called Misery Map, an interactive graphic that displays and breaks down airports with the most flight delays and cancellations. Many airlines like United, Delta, and British Airways also offer mobile apps so users can book flights, check flight statuses, check in and choose seats.

For charging up …

Almost as bad as getting waylaid? Watching those devices run out of juice. There are several solutions for travelers who need to recharge. Tech shops in the terminal sell smartphone cases that double as battery packs, like Mophie’s Juice Pack Air ($99), for all-day use. And pre-charged battery packs such as the myCharge Peak 6000 ($79) can charge smartphones and tablets several times right out of the box. Still, the cheapest solution remains those Charge Carte kiosks in some airports, which charge phones up to 50% in 30 minutes for $3.00.

For getting around …

Navigating airports like Chicago O’Hare or LAX can be a headache. But Airport Life, an app for Android and iOS, includes airport terminal maps, highlighting shops and restaurants. It also features an itinerary feature that automatically updates for say, flight changes, and information on airlines’ baggage rules and time zones.

For pure entertainment …

Looking to kill a few hours? Angry Birds Star Wars II ($.99) takes another successful stab at the cartoon aviary franchise with an obvious homage to the sci-fi saga. Meanwhile, the virtual building simulation Minecraft Pocket Edition ($6.99) is as deep or superficial as the player wants it to be. And for those reluctant to spend the cash, the puzzle game Dots keeps it simple but compelling. The goal: connect as many like-colored dots as possible in 60 seconds.

For when you’re stranded overnight …

Worst case scenario: The flight was cancelled. There are options beyond spending the night slumped in a chair at the airport or paying full price for a room at the Sheraton. Hotel Tonight, a free app for iOS devices, serves up unsold hotel rooms at a discount the day of in 150-plus markets, including New York and San Francisco.

myCharge Peak 6000