Your app has been delayed: Airlines playing catch-up in the apps economy

Mobile apps are no longer a novelty; they are an essential component for almost all businesses in all industries. Of course, some have arrived at this conclusion years ago, while others have experienced a bit of a delay. Namely, airlines.

While most airlines now offer an enhanced user experience via mobile apps, not everyone has followed suit. NDTV recently covered a story highlighting the app development efforts of several major airlines – and how their take on mobile might radically change the industry. Take a look:

As the quality and accessibility of air travel has improved over the years, so too has been the rise and impact of technology both in-flight as well as on the ground. Today, people can walk in to the airports with the tickets flashing on a cellphone or a tablet and use that to check-in.

Indigo Airlines took its first step by bringing a mobile site live over a year ago, but it launched its first app for Apple’s App Store, Windows Phone and Google Play only this January. Using the app, you can book your ticket, check the status of flights, get the PNR for your journey, and the airline is also giving some exclusive deals for people using the mobile app.

In addition to the standard features (booking, check-in, flight status, etc.) several airlines are currently creating new features, including one that will project the potential wait time for passengers, including the estimated wait time at security:

Receivers detect Bluetooth signals from electronic devices as passengers enter and exit security lines. This information is used to calculate the average waiting time and then enables the authorities to deploy security staff at the right place or even make announcements about how long it would take passengers to clear checkpoints.”

Of course, with new features and functionalities come new testing challenges. Here are a few that caught our immediate attention:

  • Bluetooth connectivity and the security of location-based data
  • Government regulations concerning access to a mobile boarding pass at security. Not every airport will allow this. The mobile app will need to be sure that they only allow this option for the airports that do accept a mobile boarding pass.
  • Poor data synchronization with the cloud. The app must be updated in real-time in order for it to prove its usefulness.
  • Potential clutter within the mobile app. Buttons will need to be accessible by a finger – without zooming into the screen. Often times, designers will believe that a user could use the small time/date button in order to choose their flight.

Airlines are definitely heading in the right direction when it comes to mobile. But of course, testers will need to ensure they remain on course.

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4 Aug 2014, 8:57 p.m.

Very good article,

We have been working with several private airlines and pilots about different usages for mobile applications. It is definitely a big industry that is growing, and it is good to see airlines starting to take notice.