Ryanair has added a new captcha screen in a bid to beef up security against screen-scrapers.

The screen appears once date and destination information has been entered on the home page, preventing screen-scraping sites from accessing pricing and availability information.

A statement from Ryanair heralds the captcha as an 'outstanding success' after eDreams and Bravofly stopped displaying its pricing details on their websites.

It says the move “has improved consumer access to, and the response times of, the Ryanair.com website”.

While the captcha screen may have warded off screen-scrapers, it also runs the risk of annoying genuine customers, which would be a massive no-no for most online retailers.

However, it’s fair to say that user experience has never been high on Ryanair’s agenda.

Kevin May, editor at travel technology site Tnooz, said the new security screen is the latest in a long line of moves to crack down on screen-scrapers:

In a nutshell, Ryanair wants to have the customer arrive on its own homepage, rather than them coming in direct to the landing pages of fares. There are a few reasons for this: it has a better opportunity to up-sell other products and services, but perhaps more importantly - as it has said in the past - having countless other brands crawling the site has been known to slow it down from a technology perspective.

May said the move is unlikely to increase abandonment rates as Ryanair passengers are likely to be committed to buying the flight as it’s cheap or convenient.

According to May:

The site already has several tick and untick boxes so another stall-point probably won’t prove to be too painful for users.

Our previous blog posts show the perils of captcha screens, which can have a negative impact on conversions. It can also prove to be a major irritation when you’re in a rush and the captcha text is indecipherable.

However, Ryanair has proved in the past that despite what consumers think of the brand, they are willing to put up with the discomfort, hidden fees and even a rumoured lack of toilets if it means they get a cheaper flight.

Ryanair’s statement is quite bullish about the captcha screen’s effect on screen-scrapers, but the true test will be to see if it remains on the site long term.

David Moth

Published 29 November, 2011 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (3)



LOLZ at the fact you have a captcha for your comments section.

over 6 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Marketing Consultant at Atomise Marketing

Hi Mike - we agree, we know that Captchas are far from perfect and we are working on updating this as soon as we can.

over 6 years ago



The are a couple of quite serious problems with Ryanair's current implementation of the Captcha : first of all the check is not tolerant of small mistakes; if somebody fails to correctly interpret or type in just one character of the string they will have to try again from scratch with a different, equally hard to type sequence.

But all that is just an irritant. The more serious problem comes when users do not initially get back a set of outward and return trips for their search. That is quite a common outcome because Ryanair do not take the trouble to flag that they don't fly between destinations on the days searched for (or that they do fly but their flights are full). So users have to randomly click on other dates to try to find a flight. The problem is that a user only gets about 4 or 5 goes at doing this before they are given a second captcha to circumvent. This was the point where I gave up on the site; I suspect it will be for many others.

over 6 years ago

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