An open letter to FlyBE on usability

Last night I booked some flights with your web site and must say I’m rather disappointed with the experience. We needed to book two return flights with one going out on a different day but both returning on the same flight, and ideally next to each other.

FlyBe logoIt is a little disappointing that to book two different flights that you have to book each one separately despite obviously being possible on the phone or with non-airline sites such as Amazon. To avoid booking one and finding the other not available and being left with useless tickets we decided to book each using a different computer so that we could try and make sure it went through at the same time.

Our first issue was that once you have chosen your flights there is no indication of the dates again until the payment has been processed. Other sites seem to have no problem displaying a "current itinerary" down the side at every stage yet with yours this place is instead full of such great things as "You saved £10 booking online!" in giant text and other less important details than a reminder/confirmation of what I have chosen thus far.

The next page, that of your details, then completely omits GUERNSEY as a country forcing us to choose UNITED KINGDOM. For a business that used to be called Jersey European it seems you have forgotten that the Channel Islands are not and have never been part of the UK. Would it be that hard to get it right? After all you’ve even got VATICAN CITY listed although I doubt you get many bookings from it’s residents.

The next part automatically includes travel insurance – which is of course completely unnecessary if you are booking on credit cards or have a travel policy but it there it is and switched on as default. This adds to the whole spiraling-supplements experience that seems to be FlyBe.

Also here is a "I’m a UK resident" check-box. What do I select being from Guernsey? Do I tell the truth and uncheck it or leave it checked as you forced me to choose UNITED KINGDOM as my country?

An option here lets me choose my seat for an extra £5.00. There is no indication of course that it is £5.00 PER PART not per booking so for return trip will be an extra £10. The conditions also make it clear that you can renegade without refund on this arrangement if you feel it’s not safe or that you didn’t make it to the front of the queue within the allocated check-in time.

We struggled through and elected to pay the £2.50 per-person-per-leg-per-hold-item charge. If there’s one thing that’s really annoying about commercial flights it’s the time it takes to get into your seat while people try to stuff over-sized items in their overhead lockers, other people’s overhead lockers then under the seat in front of them. With a supplement on hold baggage I can only assume it’s going to get worse.

Finally, the payment screen and one that seems okay apart from the fact that you’re about to pay for something you can’t get a refund on and there is no final confirmation as to what it is you are buying in contrast to every other e-commerce site I have ever used.

In order to ensure we both got our flights we clicked okay at the same time.

One completed, the other came back with a card error despite the details were okay. I can only assume your system was not happy about processing two different transactions with the same credit card details.

Hitting "retry" to return us to the previous payment screen led us to a page saying our booking was now invalid as that level of seat had gone and now only more expensive ones were available.

Joy, we get to do it all over again for one of our tickets.

Luckily for us we managed to get the second booking through, albeit at a more expensive price.

Using your site is like playing Russian roulette.


1 responses

  1. Avatar for Rob Mercer

    We had similar problems trying to book more than 6 people onto British Airways. It got us into a catch-22 situation much like you describe. We had to do two separate transactions and risk not being able to get one person a ticket. Not satisfactory at all. Can't wait for the next generation of on-line booking...

    Rob Mercer July 2, 2007