you're looking for cheap fares to get around the U.S. then Southwest is one of
your best bets, however, the money you save on flights will be reinvested into
the time spent on navigating their website. The Southwest Airline website is,
by far, one of the most difficult and worst websites for finding what you need.
I stand corrected, you can find information, but it's so disconnected from the
next steps that it becomes a navigation nightmare just to book a flight.
finding flight schedules and airfares is easy enough there are no links and no
way to book your flight from those pages. It takes an exhaustive search to find
the page that allows you to just book a flight. After finding the flight schedule
and the fees you then have to leave those pages to hunt down the section that
allows you to book, and that's no easy feat. There doesn't appear to be any pages
or links that simply say "Book Your Flight."
calling Southwest to find out why this is and how to do it, the agent instructed
me that you need to return to the home page where there's a box that says Low
Fare Shortcuts. Note, it does not say book your flight. After clicking on that
you once again have to input all your information, and even then, it's not a simple
or straightforward process. In fact, the agent felt it necessary to walk me through
the steps and became equally frustrated with me as much as I had become with their
site when I pressed her for an explanation as to why there weren't any clear links
to booking a flight. Her annoyance with my questions seemed spawned by her inability
to give me adequate answers. She simply did not know why Southwest had not created
a more direct approach to booking a flight.
following the challenging procedure, an investing more than an hour into what
became a project, I was able to finally get to the end game to book the flight
I wanted, which by the way, was much cheaper to book online instead of by phone.
When I arrived at the final page and clicked on the "special online deal"
for my destination, it came up 'unavailable." No where in the schedule that
I had originally pulled up, called "Special Internet Deals," did it
say that the particular flight I requested was unavailable. In fact, it gave the
flight times and availability. So, on top of a long, arduous search through the
site and multiple pages, in the end it was an exercise in futility.
Southwest may be a no frills airlines with cheap flights, which is great for many,
it is also a frustrating experience to get to where you want to go online never
mind in the air. This is good news for the competition as the navigation system
on the Southwest website is so poorly constructed and challenging that it leaves
one angry enough to go somewhere else and not care if they pay a higher fare.
Southwest has been credited for being one of the survivors of the recent travel
industry downturn as well as one of its highest profiteers. Perhaps they need
to think about investing some of those profits into 21st technology, intelligence
and web developers that will bring their website up to speed. But then again,
maybe they don't need to as their success has been based on low fares, low budget
and clearly low standards in technology. This leaves one to wonder if the same
lack of investment has been made into their safety and maintenance of aircraft.
Thanks Southwest but no thanks. I'll stick with Delta and the like
and pay the higher fares, especially if it means saving time, providing convenience,
and most of all, ensuring peace of mind in both cyberspace and air space.
This article was written in 2004. Since then, Southwest Airlines has come a long way, Baby.