Airlines Fail The Mobile Test

Research from mobile internet specialist Volantis has revealed that in spite of offering a slew of mobile apps and websites, many of the airlines affected by the current adverse weather conditions are failing to provide up-to-date customer information as part of their mobile presence.

With half a million stranded passengers in the UK alone, many will be relying on their mobile device for further information and details about alternative options, particularly as Christmas approaches and the rush to get home for the holidays really gets underway.

Having looked at the mobile offerings of 13 major international airline operators, however, Volantis has found that just five actually offered up-to-date flight news and information which could help stranded passengers at airports across the UK, US and Europe, via their mobile apps or mobile websites.

With 11 of the 13 airlines offering a mobile site accessible on all web-enabled devices,  and eight offering some form of smartphone app, the fact that these channels are not being effectively used to communicate with the stranded passengers suggests that more needs to be done to make mobile a truly effective and relevant channel for airlines. While all of the mobile offerings did have a ‘Flight Status’ tab, the information contained only news of that passenger’s particular flight and no further information about alternative routes or where help could be found for that customer.

“The patchwork mobile presence of most of the airlines affected by the adverse weather conditions is unacceptable, given the distress of passengers desperately trying to make travel plans during the disruption,” notes Volantis CEO, Mark Watson.  “Doubly so, when you consider that the mobile web was practically invented for a situation like this, in which travellers need to access crucial information where and when they need it.”

Watson accuses many airlines of taking “a token approach to mobilising themselves”, but singles out two for praise. “The approach of airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa, both of whom offer comprehensive emergency travel news across their apps and mobile website should be applauded and is certain to limit the reputational damage they suffer during this period of travel chaos,” says Watson. “At a time like this it’s absolutely crucial that airlines have a consistent mobile presence, which is accessible to passengers using devices ranging from an old Nokia to an iPhone 4, and which enables them to get the travel information they need in a matter of minutes. The airlines may not be responsible for the weather but they are certainly responsible for making sure their passengers are as little inconvenienced by it as possible.”