[thelist] [Survey for paper] Airline websites

Burhan Khalid burhankhalid at members.evolt.org
Sun Jan 12 13:22:01 CST 2003

>just doing a little research here about airline sites and
>the whole e-ticketing system. I personally find they are
>clunky and quite badly designed.

AA[1] (the largest airline in the US) recently revamped their website to address these issues. I am a frequent flier with them, and their AAdvantage program website is one of the best that I've seen.

>An interesting fact is that the industry seems to have
>decided on a set layout (because familiarity is good?!)
>and every site adheres to it. I think it may also be to do
>with the fact one database powers the whole lot...

Well, I don't know about the one database bit, but I know a lot of airlines use SABRE [sic] to power their reservation systems. In fact, travelocity started out as a web-based frontend to SABRE. SABRE was developed by AA -- and is now an independent entity.

[ .. ]
>I refer you all to a few sites (and please add your own)
>and would love to know what your problems and user
>experiences are with them:
[ .. ]

I have used the websites for airlines mainly to check on published fares (vs. negotiated fares), and a few times I have booked tickets online. In my experience, one of the poorly designed websites out there is for continental airlines[2].  My brother was flying continental recently and I had to check up on an itenerary. The interface was very clunky (frames of all things) -- and the site took forever to do a search. Other websites that I have visited include the British Airways[3] website, whose frequent flyer signup form has one of the most complete listing of titles that you can find. However, as far as usability, its not that great.

[ .. ]

>1) Strong reliance on Client side scripting/DHTML

I think that this is just a result of audience research. A lot of people who use these websites are after ease of use, and as much as I hate client side stuff, there are somethings that javascript is ideally suited for.

>2) Poor browser support apart from IE5+

Again, I would argue that this is also from their research. For example, the American Airlines' site[1] works great on most browsers, and they even have a version for handhelds and other devices. Their target audience is the high dollar corporate/business flyers, and blokes like I that travel internationally. Most of these people have fairly recent browsers on their systems. A lot of people that would have outdated equipment usually call in to the reservation numbers for bookings, etc.

>6) Poor customisation for frequent users...

I'd have to give AA [1] a nod for customization. Their frequent flyer site is one of the best as far as customization goes. Especially after you login with your FF number/pass.

[1] http://www.aa.com
[2] http://www.continental.com
[3] http://www.britishairways.com

Burhan Khalid
Email : burhankhalid[at]members.evolt.org
Web   : members.evolt.org/burhankhalid

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