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Do new websites mean better service from US Airways and Frontier?

When a company redesigns its website, it may be evidence of careful research based on a sincere effort to better connect with customers. On the flip side, a new site may indicate a desperate attempt to re-brand and boost flagging financials.

Which of these two paths have US Airways and Frontier chosen? The former, I'm happy to report.

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On the heels of its merger with American West, US Airways had the more daunting task of integrating the two airlines' sites in a way that didn't alienate either group of loyal passengers. The new usairways.com claims to have taken the best from both of its previous incarnations. Six of the new site features are available for the first time to customers of both usairways.com and americawest.com. Such additions include online flight check-in, seat selection, and the ability to book award travel across the US Airways network. All nice touches, in my opinion.

Frontier, on the other hand, hasn't merged with anyone, and has redesigned its website expressly for bottom-line reasons. According to the airline's President and CEO, Jeff Potter, "Our goal with the new site is to increase our web bookings by over 40 percent in the next year, which would reflect a significant savings for us in terms of distribution costs." Does this mean that the new site is only good for investors? Thankfully, no. While profitability may have been the impetus for the redesign, Frontier was smart enough to make the site attractive to passengers, too. To encourage online booking, the Denver-based carrier is offering free DirecTV and double miles to customers who reserve online. The site itself also has some nice features like a search function and the ability to book car rentals, hotels, and vacations easily.

Only time will tell whether these sites are bug-free and truly useful, but things look pretty good at this point.

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