The websites of some of the UK’s budget airlines are some of the worst to use, with four of them scoring 50% or less for usabilty, with Ryanair coming last with just 41%.

This is the verdict of Webcredible’s Flights Online study, which looks at the websites of 20 airlines and travel agents in the UK. British Airways topped the table with 71%, closely followed by Expedia and Virgin Atlantic on 70%.

Usability has improved since last year’s study, with the average score increasing from 51.5% to 56.7%. The biggest improvements were made by Expedia and Virgin Atlantic, with their scores increasing by 17% and 15% respectively.

It’s no surprise that Ryanair is bottom of the class in this study either. I looked at the site after its blogger-baiting episode in February and found plenty of room for improvement.

Usability issues on the Ryanair site I highlighted in my post included poor search options, such as being unable to search for all flights from the same city rather than specific airports and with flexible departure dates, the lack of options for refining search results ws also an issue, while many searches drew a blank, leaving the user at a dead end.

The study has highlighted these points, as well as:

  • Criticising the lack of airport information on offer, location, transport links etc.
  • Automatically signing customers up for extras like insurance and making it difficult to opt out. 
  • Making rules on flight cancellations and changes hard to find.
  • Highlighting user input errors. 

Booking flights online can be a complex process, which makes excellent user
experience even more important. While Ryanair may not worry too much about usability issues, there is plenty of competition in
this sector so customers can easily find a competitor’s website if the
booking process becomes too difficult.

Customers are drawn to the Ryanair website by the cheap flights on offer, but they may not tolerate poor usability for ever, especially if other budget airlines can improve their own sites.