American Airlines iPad App: FAIL

Posted By Debbie on January 13, 2011

Last night, my boyfriend and I were trying to book flights on his iPad. We had already researched options, and knew we wanted certain flights on American. He opened the American Airlines iPad app, which in many ways is a lot like their website. So this is double fail, if you ask me.

I don’t have an iPad. I’m one of those “iPad haters.” Every time I’ve touched one, I’ve ended up furious at something in the UI or experience. But I have seen my friend, Mike, book zillions of flights from his iPad, and he makes it look like sliding down a hill covered in butter. So I was ready to be thrilled.

American Airlines, not a lot makes me yell out loud, and you had both of us yelling out loud. Here are some screamers:

  • When a list of flights come up, it’s not obvious that there may be pages more. Those choices are in -10 point font at the bottom of the page, below the fold.
  • The “continue” button is also at the bottom. It’s small and red on a website where everything is bold blue and red. Not easy to find. And if I wanted the first flight on the list, I still have to scroll down to continue. How about a continue button at the top too?
  • The back button in the app doesn’t take you to the screen you were last on. It takes you to the splash/welcome page of the app. So we were JUST about done buying the flights when we got stuck on a screen that wouldn’t take us back. I hit “close window” over and over, and it sat there. I finally hit “back,” thinking it would go back to where I was. Nope. We lost EVERYTHING we had done, and had to start over. That was when most of the yelling happened, but it was at American Airlines, not at each other.
  • Choosing seats happened AFTER I bought the tickets. This tells me that your seat options are often stinky, and you don’t want me to know that until I’ve already committed to buying. OK, but then you may have an angry and frustrated person who committed to buying, and now doesn’t want to fly you next time, or needs customer support. Why create more need for customer support? Show me seating during the booking process so I can make sure you have what I want. Who knows. I might switch to a more expensive flight just to get the seats I want.
  • I’m surprised at the default seating choice. There are two of us. In an MD-80 (2 seats on the left, 3 seats on the right), you put us in an aisle and window in the back of the plane, knowing we have a tight plane change. You could have put us in the 2 left seats 10 rows forward of that. I think the default choice is quite strange, and not great for travel!

That was very frustrating. I’ll never book from an iPad app again, if I don’t have to. That was a multidimensional user experience failure. We bought the tickets, but furiously.