Airline websites – good or bad? I.

Following the press release of Iberia winning the best airline website award, we decided to take a deeper look at the website of major airlines. As there are many of those who should be examined, this will be a series of posts.

To be the most objective possible we followed the same path everywhere (we set up goals – things to find on the website) and we used the same ratings everywhere. Here is the parameter list:

– finding special deals in English
– finding the phone number where I could claim damages
– finding the best price for a certain flight within a week’s time
– finding the list of lounges I can use as a frequent flier at different airports
– finding the subscription to the newsletter

– design
– navigation
– content
– ergonomy

And here are the results:


Goals: I could get to the English page in 2 steps. First I had to select country (I used the UK site everywhere, where I had to select). The special deals were there immediately (5 points), subscription to newsletter was immediately there (5 points), I never found the list of lounges (0 point), Claims and damages phone number can be found in 3 steps (2 points), I could easily get 7 x 7 price for the time period I checked (this is the feature of e-Travel’s Planitgo) – (5 points), so for the goals section Iberia gets 17 out of 25 points.

Ratings: design is always the most subjective part of such an analysis, but I tried to focus on browser optimization, icons used, colors used, letter sizes, special design elements. For me Iberia’s webdesign is worth 4 out of 5, navigation is clear, just sometimes it takes more steps to find things, so again 4 out of 5, content: I found almost everything necessary for the travel, except lounges, but nothing extra or nothing that would convince me to fly with them. 3 out of 5. Web ergonomy is clear, although for me the main page is a waste of space (I used 1280×1024). 4 out of 5.

Total points: 17 + 15 = 32 out of 45 (71%)


Goals: Here again the selection of the UK English version requires two steps (country+language). Country specific deals are immediately available and cover most of the space (5 points), Newsletter subscription is also available as one of the Quicklinks on the right side (5 points), together with a link to the Lounge finder (5 points) and to “Local Contacts”, where you can either use Baggage or Customer Relations to report any claims and damages, so it’s easy to find but not dedicated “Claims and Damages” number is available (3 points), when searching for flights I could get the 7×7 matrix very easily so another 5 points there for Lufthansa. A total of 23 out of 25 points there.

Ratings: The design is clear, icons used are easy to understand the grouping of links is straight forward. The design reflects the Lufthansa brand very well, and also shows the simple, clear German structure! 🙂 It is a bit too design-less in a way that it shows only a minimum of images, therefore it’s a little bit dry, but it gets 4 points out of 5, navigation is clear, it is worth 5 points for me, Content would also receive 5 points as they offer everything a traveller would need, grouped together for each travel period (before, onboard, at the airport, etc.). For ergonomy I would give 4 points. The total for ratings then: 18 points.

Total points: 23 + 18 = 41 out of 45 (91%)

British Airways:

Goals: well, BA has some advance here with the UK site. Finding special deals was supereasy (5 points). Finding the phone number was quite hard. The strategy is clear. Help yourself online. Still, if I am an angry business class passenger not loosing baggage, but having some problems with the flight attendants on board, it is very difficult for me to find a phone number (3 points). OK, pricing. I have to admit, BA was always a benchmark for me with their pricing module. I was surprised to see they changed it. They made it more simple and more low-cost-like. I could get into details, this is a fun part of airline e-commerce, but I could easily achieve my goal, so 5 points for this one. Next goal: lounges. again, very good. I really liked the way they put all information on their website. It’s just the navigation that made me confused. I was on the 3rd or 4th level of navigation depth and no navbar helped me to navigate back if I missed what I was looking for. 5 points for the lounges, but in the end, I will reduce the points for the navigation. Last goal – newsletter. Oops, total failure. I could not find it even with the help of Search. Guys, you should do something with it. I am quite an advanced user. How do others find it? Sorry, 1 point.

Ratings: design is clear, nice, usable, readable, although nothing special. They could work a little bit harder on that. 4 points. Navigation: on the first or even the second level it is usable. But no more levels are accessible easily, no navbar, no second level navigation on a site that has a very cmplex content. 2 points. Content: very high quality, well phrased, easy to read and apparently quite a number of pages. 5 points. Ergonomy: it is optimized for 800*600 in resolution, which is a little bit oldschool. I miss the concept of the main page. I am sure they are having hard times with it. 4 points, because other pages are good.

Total points: 19 + 15 = 34 out of 45 (75%)

to be continued…

by balint01 and Szafi

2 Responses to “Airline websites – good or bad? I.”

  1. 1 South African August 23, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    What gets me with the BA site is the calender style flights to and from, as opposed to the drop down menus.

  2. 2 szafi August 30, 2007 at 10:59 am

    yes, that’s it. That’s why I always looked at it as a good industry benchmark.

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