Airline Websites – fail!

Monday, 28 April 2014

IMG_4610 - Southwest at Fort Lauderdale Airport 271I flew Southwest Airlines the other week, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Nashville, Tennessee. Not because I wanted to (although Southwest was absolutely fine), but because American Airlines wouldn’t sell me a ticket. I was in the British Virgin Islands when I tried to book American Airlines flight 3280 to Nashville from Miami on the American Airlines website. I went through the whole booking process, put in all the details – me and my credit card – clicked ‘buy’ and got this message:

• An error occurred while processing your reservation. Please either start over or contact Online Support at 800-222-2377 in the U.S./Canada



So I did start over and ended up with the same message. I did it again with a different credit card. I phoned ‘Online Support’ and nobody answered. I tried Maureen’s credit card. Then Maureen’s other credit card. Then with Pay Pal. Nothing worked.

So I left it until I got to the American Virgin Islands, same story. So I left it until I got to Miami and there were no seats left. So I flew Southwest, their website was very happy to sell me a ticket, quickly, easily and with no errors occurring. Flying out of Fort Lauderdale wasn’t quite as convenient as Miami, but no big deal.

IMG_4619 - Fort Lauderdale Airport 542▲ Fort Lauderdale Airport

Of course airline and booking agent websites aren’t the only ones that can cause you trouble, I’m wrestling with assorted British plumbing websites right now, trying to buy a tap. But I’ve had more airline trouble since that American Airlines fail. Next time it was trying to fly Wizz Air from Târgu Mureș (Transylvania, vampire land, in Romania) to London. I started with Bravofly and quickly found their fare wasn’t as cheap as it looked when all the hidden extras were added. So I moved on to Opodo – which I’ve used successfully before on a number of occasions. This time it was the same story as American Airlines. Lots of information to input and only an error message at the end. Although later on I did get a message that ‘We’ve noticed that you recently left items in your Opodo shopping basket.’ I certainly did, you didn’t want me to check out.

Next stop (and slightly more expensive) was directly with Wizz Air where I put in all the data only for the site to refuse to recognise my password. Second try same result. Next time I said OK, I’ve forgotten my password, send me a new one. I type in all the data all over again, put in the new password Wizz Air has just sent me and what happens? Yes, the password isn’t recognised. Do it again, no recognition. Get another new password and do it again. And again. But eventually – by which time I’ve spent well over an hour typing in the same data (flight, dates, passengers, addresses) over and over again the site relents and sells me a ticket.

Most of the time I can never work out why some sites don’t work and others are absolutely straightforward. On one occasion in Africa I spent far too long trying to book a flight in Democratic Republic of Congo with Hewa Bora Airlines. Over and over again my password was rejected, I tried everything: more characters, less characters, alphas, numerics, strong characters, before I eventually realise that it was not the password which was being rejected, it wanted my date of birth in US rather than rest-of-the-world order! The website was clearly designed by a US company. Two weeks after my flight the aircraft, flying the same route as I took, crashed in the worst air disaster anywhere in the world that year.

IMG_0189 - Hewa Bora 727 542▲ Hewa Bora Boeing 727 at Kisangani Airport, Democratic Republic of Congo