Top 3 Airline Websites (And The 3 Worst)

Friday, June 5, 2009

I was reading this post over at Budget Travel about a guy, so fed up with the American Airlines website, decided to redesign the front page to show the big boys how it’s done, at least in the mind of a 22-year-old web designer. Here’s the result.

This got me thinking: Which airline has the best site? So I went ahead and pulled up the top 10 largest airlines’ sites, then a few of the smaller carriers, and my suspicions were confirmed: The smaller the company, the better the site. Why do the major sites all seem overly cluttered and prone to causing epileptic seizures?

So here we go, my choices for the top 3 and bottom 3 airline sites:


1) Jet Blue.


Ahh, look at that clean interface, those pleasing colors, the easy to use pop-up windows. I just want to take it out to a small Italian restaurant and enjoy the night together, just the two of us.

2) Virgin America


So hip. A little aloof, no extraneous info, no need to splash a lot of color around. Coming here is like being invited to the cool lunch table: You never want to go anywhere else, and you are so not bringing lunch from home anymore.

3) SAS Airlines


Did you really expect Scandinavia’s largest carrier’s site to be cluttered, confusing, and anything but ultra-efficient? Not only is it slick and hassle-free, I have a feeling this site would both make it easy for me to book a flight and do an amazing job redecorating my room.


1) Ryanair


What am I shopping for here? Plane tickets, used blenders, Sham Wows? Not only does the site have the ambiance of a roadside casino, Ryanair commits the cardinal sin in all of design, if not the world: The use of comic sans.

2) American Airlines


Don’t let that pleasing picture of a waterfall fool you, AA’s site is perfect for those who miss using EBay and Yahoo circa 1998. American’s reliance on jarring rollover tabs, jagged tab corners, and a less than inspiring color palette makes you hope they put a little more focus on updating their plane’s technology than their website’s.

3) China Southern


I can overlook annoying colors and clutter, but the least you can do is make the site work, more than I can say for China Southern’s site. Perhaps it has something to do with accessing it from the U.S., but it doesn’t bode well for future travelers when the site’s missing graphics (see the right panel) or when they decide to stick two (?) sections on top of each other from which you are supposed to choose your flight. Also, I have to admit, a red flag goes up when the home page has a clear link to “Refund Applications.” Gee, does that issue happen to come up a lot?

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