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Editors' Choice Awards 2010: Best Airline Website

by SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Choice Badge: Best Airline Website
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on May 23, 2010. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, technology and gadget.

Winner: Frontier Airlines

While every airline has a website, are these websites easy to use? Are sales and deals prominent and easily accessible? Do the sites look cluttered or clean (and, daresay, elegant)? For the Best Airline Website award, we looked at major carriers' websites and attempted to book a flight on each one, all the while judging usability, functionality, and (yes) aesthetics.

Based on these criteria, Frontier Airlines' website, frontierairlines.com, stands out as the winner. While many airline websites are similar in look and function, Frontier distinguishes itself immediately with its homepage. You arrive at a front page that boasts a clean look, eye-catching graphics, and easy navigation, with all major functions clearly outlined on the screen. After entering city pairs and travel dates, you are re-routed to a second screen with the flight's total price breakdown, an automatic flex-search of surrounding dates (to determine if flexible dates would yield a better price), and highlighted booking areas.

What really sets Frontier apart from the competition, however, is its bulleted list, immediately following the booking information, outlining benefits (e.g., amenities available on the flights) as well as any applicable fees (luggage, snacks, change fees, etc.). By presenting all benefit and fee information immediately and in an easy-to-read format, there are no unpleasant surprises later—in this case, the fine print is large print, with no punches pulled. Finally, Frontier also offers airplane seat selection prior to booking a flight, so you know exactly what you're paying for before you turn over your credit card information. On many other airline websites, seat selection isn't available until after you've paid, which means you never fully know what you're getting until you've committed to buy. The transparency of Frontier's website makes it stand out from the crowd.

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When evaluating each airline's website, we paid particular attention to the layout and presentation of information; whether there was easy access to sales, deals, and reservations; whether customer service contact information was easy to locate; and the amount of clicks/scrolling needed on each site to perform basic tasks (booking, locating customer service, etc.). If an airline's website was user-friendly, required minimal clicking/scrolling, and had a streamlined layout, it received high marks. Sites that required high amounts of clicking and scrolling, showed a cluttered look, and had difficult-to-locate customer service contact information received lower rankings.

Honorable mentions go to Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue. Both websites are tidy, attractive, and offer easy-to-use features and flight search results (including flexible date search options). Each carrier's website also has seating charts and seat selection available before booking. For these strengths and their respective commitments to maintaining up-to-date and user-friendly sites, Hawaiian and JetBlue receive special recognition just behind Frontier.

Your Turn

Do you agree or disagree with our winner in this category? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

See All Editors' Choice Winners

Most Customer-Friendly Airline | Best Free Airline Perk | Best Coach-Class Experience | Best Value Airline | Best Value Destination | Best Hotel Loyalty Program | Best Rental Car Loyalty Program | Best Travel Rewards Card for Domestic Use | Best Travel Rewards Card for Overseas Use | Best Travel Rewards Card for ATM Use | Best Airline Website | Best Use of Social Media | Most Pet-Friendly Airline for Checked Pets | Most Pet-Friendly Airline for Carry-On Pets | Most Eco-Friendly Airline | Best Airport for Layovers | Best Airport for Connections

 
 
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