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currently I Hate Travelocity
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— 15 June 2005 —

I Hate Travelocity

Maybe that’ll get their attention.

I receive a “fare alert” email from Travelocity when certain routes I have identified fall below a certain price threshold. Today’s rant is brought to you by the (supposed) low, low price of $173 from Chicago to Portland.

I see the email and click the “book now” button, thanks to it being an HTML email. Of course, it takes me to a blank page. Three times to a blank page. No matter, I can just type travelocity.com into the address field. The first thing I see:

travelocity screen shot

My first thought is, how do they know where I live?! Oh yeah, cookie. But, think I, why not save 20% on flights from Bloomington. I click the image…

travelocity screen shot

Okay. So fares aren’t available for my city. So why the hell did they advertise in big, friendly white letters that I could save 20% from BLOOMINGTON? Musta been a typo. Fine, I will just search from the home page.

Enter Chicago… Enter Portland… Select “flexible dates” because I don’t know exactly when I want to leave. Click search. I get a list of airlines that offer a range of prices, but I see my $173 at the top of the list. Cool. I click through and see this:

travelocity screen shot

I think, why not the 7th of July. Sure.

travelocity screen shot

Okay, not that. How about the 14th.

travelocity screen shot

Okay… How about the 17th? 22nd? 27th?! 30th?!?!

travelocity screen shot

See, the problem I am having here is that the little green boxes mean that SEATS ARE AVAILABLE (that is what is known as type-aloud protocol). So, tell me this: if seats are available, why when I click the seats-are-available green boxes, does the page reload to tell me it is sold out? Why can’t the system just check when the page loads for the first time and only show me the days where, oh I don’t know, seats are actually available.

Fine. I don’t want to travel in August, but why not see if I can get all boxes to change to gray. Let’s say August 2nd.

travelocity screen shot

Holy crap it worked! What do I do now? I still don’t want to go in August, but I must see this through. So I click on the 6th.

travelocity screen shot

Here we go again. And it is at this point I give up. To add insult to injury, when I left the site, they popped up a window telling me what I just searched on and wouldn’t I like to purchase it for $324. No. I’d rather pay $173. And I’d rather buy from another site.

This has always been an issue with Travelocity for me. I just don’t understand why they cannot show the information I want, when I want it. Especially since I know they have access to the correct data. Each page reload shows me they know.

This seems like a low-hanging-fruit usability issue. If it truly is, then this is a good example of how a small fix can have a big impact on that whole customer experience thing. As it is, my customer experience was negative thanks to, based on my goal, an unusable site.

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