Fly Me to San Francisco – Airline Website UX


I am a big fan of traveling. During my spring break, I went to San Francisco using United Airlines. 

I usually use a travel agency website to find and select my flight for the most accommodating schedule, cheaper price and my mileage. I booked my flight on, but I was not able to reserve seat with the third party website. So, I visited United Airlines to reserve my seat.

Smells like old school


ok, I heard that United Airlines is the 2nd biggest passenger airlines in North America. Hmm, but this website looks like old school. In conclusion, my user experience with this website was not so great. (FYI, I was a first website visitor and did not create my user account)

What I see: negative

  • Everything’s small and unorganized: the size of font and banner. Everything is very crowed in this website, giving me impression that the website is not biggest interests of United Airlines. Wait, wasn’t the website one of your company’s faces?
  • Get some expert help on design: along with my first point, this website looks very old. The choice of font, color, banner design and alignment, and images gotta be improved.
  • Banners move!: there is no animation on the website, so the banners move around. “Kick back on the beach” banner was located at the top of the screen.  in my second visit, the banner relocated at the bottom of the screen. why? In addition to the unorganized banners, I don’t feel that this is a good strategy. 

00 Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 3.05.44 PM

(the main page appears different – no animation implemented)

  • “Kick back on the beach” banner needs improvement: what I feel about this banner is that the banner doesn’t attract enough. If your customer visited your website randomly, this is the banner to encourage them to go on board. In addition to the message, a simple listing of the flights doesn’t seem effective.  I don’t have a big problem with flow, but I would make a good big picture of destinations and how much they can save like percentages compared to the regular price. Then, have them search the flight from their destination.

 Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 3.02.44 PMScreen Shot 2013-03-27 at 3.01.36 PM


  • Can I have an aisle seat?: How many flight purchasers would visit the website? May be for changing schedule and seat assignment. Today, many people reserve their seats before they check in at the airport, so the competition is pretty high.  I didn’t want to seat in the middle of three seats for the 6-hour flight. Some airlines offer the seat assignment banner on the first page for its customers so that they don’t have to wander around. Seat assignment can be accessed through “change or view reservation  banner on United Airlines, but I am just too lazy and want to see a “seat assignment.” (plus, bad location of change or view reservation banner)

What I see: positive

I had a change on my travel schedule, so I had to purchase my return flight from United Airlines website. I was a little bit familiar with the website after I reserved my seat for San Francisco, so I didn’t have big problems with purchasing new flight. Adding to this, I liked some aspects with the website.

  • No animation: there is no animation or flash on this website, so the website wasn’t heavy even with the slow Internet speed.
  • Very straightforward: at the front page, I could easily search my flight. I also liked the options of “search by” (what’s my biggest interest: price, schedule, or award travel) and “nonstop flights only.”

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 2.21.36 PM

After I booked my flight, I looked at United Airline’s mobile page. It was differentiated from the original website. Big menus invited me to explore the mobile page. Simple and very easy. I prefer mobile website for the original website.

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