There is plenty of room for improving the user experience of some of the UK's top travel websites, according to a new usability study.

Webcredible's Flights Online study looked at the flight search and booking process on 20 travel agent and airline websites.

The highest scoring website was Opodo with 67%, while Monarch came off worst on 38%. On average, travel agent websites were more usable than the airlines' sites.

Searching for flights

Most travel websites scored reasonably well on the first step of the booking process, with the majority having a flight search box or link on the homepage.

However, many sites handled misspellings of city or airport names badly. Ideally, users should be prompted or given alternatives when this happens, especially as some web users may not know exactly how to spell more exotic place names.

On Travelocity for instance, the site will spend a minute or so searching for available flights before giving users an error message:

Travelocity error message

Results pages

The study found that comparison shoppers are not well catered for on travel websites. Many web users will visit and search flights on several sites to compare prices before making a decision.

However, most sites scored poorly on this, with two out of five the top score. For instances, searches are not saved across sessions and most websites failed to offer users the option of saving their flights and booking them later.


Surprisingly, most websites failed to consistently display a contact number throughout the booking process.

Many web shoppers like to research online and pay offline, especially with travel purchases, so they should be provided with a contact number to be able to book over the phone if they wish.

Also, these are often expensive purchases, and some customers may have some questions, or require some reassurance before booking online. Providing visible contact details should be a no-brainer, but the 20 sites scored an average of less then two out of five.

Related research:
Travel Website Benchmarks 2007

Related stories:
Travel: TV and web go hand in hand
Online travel: recommendations on the purchase process
Five ways to make online travel sites better 

Graham Charlton

Published 2 April, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (3)



Usability is crucial and often overlooked.  It's a shame, because its an easy way to squeeze a few extra percentage points of profit out of a travel website.  With technology changing so fast, quality is often an afterthought.

over 9 years ago



 Cause is galling also regularly overlooked.  It's a shame, as its an basic accession to hug a few heavier standard points of gain superficial of a travel website.  bury technology potent thereupon fast, character is recurrently an.

almost 9 years ago


Tonny from Corfu

I believe that is better after your checking a website to make your reservation via phone because you can ask all the details about your accommodation, the hotel and the location. Of course we should be never fergot if the pictures of the hotel are real...

over 7 years ago

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