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The fundamentals of an airline app - Part 1 - Search and booking

The exponential growth of the digital era over the last 10 years means that we are now living in an engagement economy, where everything and everyone is connected.

As consumers we seek out brands that demonstrate that they understand ”me” and engage with ”me” at a personal level. For travel brands that want to stay competitive in today’s engagement economy, it is essential that they prove their commitment to earning a customers’ business across every touchpoint— by being where your customers are, when it matters most.

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Mobile is the most ubiquitous channel through which travel brands can connect, engage and build relationships with their customers. It is a channel that dominates people’s time online; in the UK 61% of total minutes spent online are on mobile with that figure rising to 71% in the US and 72% in Brazil1.

So how are people using those all important mobile minutes? App usage dominates; in June 2016 mobile apps surpassed 50% of all digital time in the UK, furthermore in the UK 82% of mobile minutes are used on apps with that figure rising to 87% in the US and 99% in China1.

As the figures prove it’s fair to say in order to capture the attention of customers a successful mobile strategy with an app at its core is essential. Throughout this blog series we will be exploring some of the fundamental features an airline should offer to help acquire, engage and monetize their customers. So we’ll start with the basics!

What exactly are the fundamentals of a good airline app?

The first of these fundamental features is the ability for travellers to search and book their flights through the airlines mobile app. With the online travel market expected reach $18.9 billion by 20202 and with apps generating 57% of mobile bookings in Q1 20163 it is fair to say that airlines who don’t offer this functionality are missing out on significant revenue opportunities.

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For any airline effective engagement will start by getting motivated, engaged consumers actively using your mobile channel and for that they will need strong UX centric mobile capabilities that make interacting with the travel brand as easy and attractive as possible. The usability of an airlines search and booking functionality cannot be underestimated as it impacts app stickiness and associated revenue directly. In the UK alone in 2014 travel companies lost out on £2.7 billion in revenue as a result consumers not completing the booking process4 and with an estimated two out of five mobile shoppers having abandoned a travel booking on a mobile device due to poor user experience5 there is no doubt that getting this right presents real growth potential for airlines.

The types of functionality that are key for any airline mobile search and booking solution are:


  • Review available flights
  • Best prices
  • Class selection
  • Multi-passenger search


  • Create reservation
  • Confirm booking
  • Process payment

While providing your travellers with the features they need to get tasks done is important - it is essential that these core functions are combined with top quality UX and UI. Having an optimized search and booking flow provides airlines with the opportunity to minimize abandoned bookings and also leverage ancillary and upsell revenue opportunities such as seat upgrades, priority boarding, extra luggage, WIFI and trip insurance.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.00.11_iphone5s_silver_portrait.pngBy getting the basics of flight search and booking right airlines are going in the right direction of both acquiring and engaging their customers. Airlines who don’t offer these fundamental features, or indeed a mobile app, are missing out on a key opportunities, not only in terms of losing customers, but also significant revenue potential.

While it is essential to get the fundamentals right this is only the tip of the iceberg. As technology has advanced it has created many more opportunities for airlines to engage the traveller throughout the travel lifecycle; generating even more touch points with the traveller at every stage of the trip and developing  opportunities to build valuable relationships.

Stay tuned for the next blog in our ‘Fundamentals of an airline app’ series where we’ll explore the importance of mobile check in and boarding to the customer engagement experience.

If you're looking to generate more bookings and supercharge engagement to multiply revenue then check out Travelport Fusion. 

1comScore MMX Multi-Platform, January 2017
3 Google & Crite, Travel Flash Report, 2016
4 Jumio Report - “In 2014 in the UK alone £2.7 billion was lost to travel companies after consumers scrapped a booking” (Jumio)


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