Or maybe it should be entitled “How not to design a webpage…”
I want to go home to George sometime between now and the end of June to try get a learners license (A complicated story itself.) Now what I want to do is not that complicated. I want to board a plane in Capetown and get off in George stay there for a few days then get on a plane and come back to Capetown and I want to do so as cheaply as possible and do this all sometime before the end of June.
So what exactly is the problem? You haven’t used the wonders of online booking have you?
First stop is flysaa.com the home of “South African Airlines” which for a longtime was the only serious airline flying inside South Africa. Flysaa is an extremely complicated website, especially if you trying todo something as complicated as trying to find out how much it’s going to cost to get to George and back sometime in May or June. I’m rather flexible about when I leave and return and I don’t mind too much if it’s a Monday or a Sunday, morning or afternoon etc. To illustrate “How not to design a website for an airline” let me quickly describe what I had through to find out how much it will cost to get to George and back.
Firstly you select where you want to depart from then where you are going. Then you have to specify the day you want to depart and when you want to come back. You can’t say “Sometime in May” or anything like that you have to give an actual day. So I give in and select a day. After this I get given a list of flights and the times they arrive and depart and asked to pick the one I want… is there a price difference between the early morning or the lunch time flight ? Don’t know because it doesn’t tell you yet. What it does do is give you a bunch of terms and conditions and what pricing applies and who to contact should I need medical assistance or special food… So I click “Price Flights”… It finally comes back with the prices for my flights and I now get t make the decision of whether or not it’s too expensive or if I should instead perhaps take a different flight as it may be cheaper.
After the above frustrating experience I go to www.kulula.com one of our “low budget” airlines, and one who have some of the best ads on tv. The first thing they ask you is where you going and when and if you will be returning. You then get to pick a flight and it will give you the price of the flight and tell you which is the cheapest. If you don’t like the prices you can go one day forward or backward to see if it won’t make a difference… cool huh?
But wait theres more… What if you want to leave sometime in May and don’t have a specific day ? Then you click a link on the left called “Bargain Browza” you select the month you would like to go where you coming from and going to and whether you will be returning and click “go” it then comes back with a grid showing you which days there are flights and how much they will cost and allows you to select a flight.
The “budget” airline’s (Kulula.com) website is driven by the “price” of the ticket and it’s easy to get this information upfront, the site is also alot easier to navigate and was designed with the traveller in mind.
Flysaa.com was not built with the traveller in mind and does everything it can to hide the price from the shopper until the very last minute, literally just before you purchase the ticket.
But things get slightly more complicated though, you’ll remember at the beginning of this writeup I said I was trying to get to and from George sometime in May/June. While Kulula’s website is easy to use they have one fatal flaw… they only fly to George not from it.
*sigh* you can’t have your cake and eat it can you?