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US airlines criticised for poor sales websites

US airlines are coming under fire for their poor desktop sales sites.

In a study by UserTesting, the top 10 airlines in the United States were rated based on the ease of use of their websites and it was Southwest Airlines who came out on top.

They were praised for the speed in which the customer could find flight information and complete various tasks such as booking a flight, amending a booking or finding out more information about their itinerary.

It was Spirit Airlines who was the overall lowest-rated airline as consumers felt it took too long to find vital information like flight costs and were put off on the company's decision to insist on the customer logging into the site or registering. They also felt the airline was hiding information, which reduced the feelings of trust they had for the company.

In all the tasks they were asked to complete, the 1000 people who took part in the study found it most difficult to find the cost of check in baggage for a flight on nine out of 10 of the websites. For JetBlue, customers found it most difficult to find arrival information. Travellers disliked the fact that they were asked to create an account or wait until check out to find the prices for the baggage.

The aesthetics of the website played a big factor in a good user experience. Virgin America and Alaska were rated highly for their clean, professional look, which made the consumer more confident in the brand itself.

Brian Smith, VP of Marketing at UserTesting, said: "Airlines are not traditionally known for delivering delightful customer experiences. It's a tall order to connect every customer touchpoint, but repeated roadblocks on any channel can quickly diminish customer loyalty - a critical driver of ROI. To keep up with the rising demands from the market, airlines need to put the customer at the center of every booking decision, from the desktop web to the in-flight experience."

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