Airline websites slammed for hidden charges
[26th March 2008]
Low cost airlines have been criticised for a lack of transparency in their pricing in a study looking at the usability of travel company websites.
Website usability and accessibility consultancy Webcredible evaluated 20 travel agent and airline websites against best practice guidelines. Opodo was rated the most usable online travel website scoring 67%. British Airways was the best airline website with a score of 65%.
Overall airlines scored worse than online travel agents, averaging just 48% compared to 55% for agents. Low fares airlines were the worst performers. Bottom was Monarch with just 38%, followed by Ryanair with 40%. Thomsonfly and xl.com both scored 44%, while flybe and easyJet were little better with 46%.
Users need to have clear and accurate pricing displayed throughout their journey through a site. Its not acceptable to add hidden charges at the very end of a transaction process this is something which a number of airline carriers are guilty of, comments Webcredible director, Ismail Ismail.
Many of the sites also suffered with inaccessible user information. For example, with the growing number of airlines flying to new and mysterious-sounding airports many of the sites arent being upfront about where they are based and how users will get there. 15 out of 20 travel sites scored 0 out of 5 on this guideline, Ismail adds.
Both airline and travel agent websites were also criticised for failing to embrace Web 2.0. Booking a holiday is often a social experience and the ability to interact and share the booking process with friends and family is essential. Given the sectors huge growth and potential, top travel sites must leverage every advantage available to them to be more effective in this highly competitive marketplace, recommends Ismail.
Written by: Nick Purdom
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