Jonah McLachlan | Lufthansa online booking experience – A UX teardown
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Lufthansa online booking experience – A UX teardown

Introduction

This teardown will look at some aspects of the booking experience for the Lufthansa airways website. The task I’m setting myself is booking a journey from London to Frankfurt. I have a hypothesis that the primary goal of users coming to this site is to make a booking. This will need to be validated, however I do believe this to be standard across all airline websites. (To clarify therefore, checking in, viewing delays or contacting support are out of the scope of this article). I will go so far to make a booking without actually submitting the form. I also will be taking screenshots as I go and creating learnings from my experience. The time of study was done in December 2018 (Safari browser).

First impressions

The home screen prioritises search over upgrade packages, offers or holiday items. Lufthansa has a smooth loading screen and makes use of ‘skeleton/ghost states’ which is excellent.

Choosing a flight

When interacting with the To / From destination finder, prices are shown quickly and upfront. There’s no page reload, or new layouts. There’s also helpful form validation in place.

Calendar View

As mentioned before, I have a hypothesis that the primary need of a traveller is booking: so choose destination and getting an idea of prices is critical. There are two options that are provided to get this information: either entering specific dates OR making use of the cheapest month-by-month prices. This is all catered for with a minimal amount of interactions.

Further steps and checkout

Unfortunately this clear layout is completely changed if you enter specific dates. Here the customer is presented with a legacy design (which I’m guessing is still a work in progress). The nice experience suddenly drops when faced with a new layout, patterns and experience. This has the potential to disrupt the flow as there’s a clear distinction between this and the previous experience. Hopefully users will be patient and not be thrown off by this new page. Multiple items can be discussed, however let me just point out on how the forms are confusing. There’s also competing content and there’s no obvious call to action to proceed. Users previously were primed to click big yellow buttons, and now are restricted to having to interact with tiny radio buttons to make their selections.

After selecting an economy seat, confusion options are shown with no selection button. How many economy options are available? The recommended (and more expensive) option is chosen by default. So although €413.90 was the price promised, it automatically hikes up by €16.29 to the recommended option, without the user selecting it. This potentially could be a catastrophic pain point! If the user then taps the Economy Light option is selected, there’s no clear “proceed” button. This hidden button is soon found by a quick scroll.

A dramatic change in user interface. Maybe a legacy system?

Business Strategy vs UX

Like most travel websites, there is a constant array of upsell hurdles which have been proven to cause poor experiences. When high-paid executives make a decision to promote revenue generation over customer experience, sales will always take a hit. What started as a clear, seamless experience has gone down a rabbit hole into a messy, distracting and complex journey. Delight levels will decrease, users will leave the funnel and exit before actually getting into the checkout. The first steps in the flow had clear CTAs and now we’re seeing unnecessary and misleading items, not to mention that there’s a GPS notification (in Safari) which is another hurdle in the experience. The airways doesn’t technically need to know the exact location of the potential passenger. This feature has adverse affects on the check out button which actually is disabled until you interact with the Safari alert.

Upselling options shown after the customer has selected their journey type.

Meeting user expectations

In running similar interviews for travel websites with our own clients, all users expect to see payment and checkout after selecting prices, times and dates. When we return to our hypothesis that the primary goals of the customer is to book a flight, I would make a case against showing these secondary (edge-cases) items as they can create a poor experience for the user.

Thankfully there is only one upsell page (rather than multiple pages for the user). Lufthansa have ensure that other items are hidden on the “Configure your trip” sidebar which take the user to different standalone pages. This is a good trade off and could be a lot worse (too negative?). These extras are opt-in rather than a required step or should I say, hurdle.

Once we get past the jungle of upsell-addons, we come to the ‘checkout’ page which is sliced up into accordion items. Although it can keep the page short, it does hide potentially critical information (such as confirming flight times or payment details). Also if you enter your details wrongly, you’ll get an alert, however this is positioned at the top of the page. In my case I didn’t enter any address details, but it wasn’t clear where I needed to enter my details. So I had to scroll quite a few times to see the fields with issues. This is one problem with the accordion idea. Another point is that the main “Yes, book and pay for my ticket” button is right at the bottom and isn’t as easy to interact with.

Online Chat

Because this is such a critical stage and ultimately the ‘money-maker’ for this airline, they’ve made the decision to have an online chat for customers. This certainly can help alleviate any frustration or stress the customer might be having and it could result in a conversion. The live chat is personalised. Seeing agent’s name “Marie Hoffmann” and her face is beneficial for creating a good customer experience.

Pricing Transparency

Getting the balance for a good customer experience

UI Consistency

Avoiding any unnecessary changes in the visual interface.

Live Chat

Building trust through personalisation.

Summary

All in all, I would consider the Lufhansa booking experience above average. If the web team were able to create a consistent experience and streamlined flow from start to finish, then I predict the conversions would increase dramatically. Also if they optimised the “upsell” page to be more strategic and less of a hurdle, then I believe users will be able to get further down the funnel. Help indicators like live chat and presenting a clear order summary are all excellent implementations. If best practice was applied to the forms and the checkout, then the whole booking process would be smoother. All in all, great job. I can’t wait to see the next iteration of this site. 

 

Thanks,
Jonah