When people have no choice they’ll struggle through but this doesn’t mean you should treat people like they are computers – an online check-in experience. 

Recently, I was trying to check in for a flight. it was a long-distance flight, so I felt it important to check-in and choose my seat as soon as it was available.

I logged onto the website precisely 23.5 hours before the flight – 30 minutes after check-in opened.

Treating people like computers

In a rush to get through and to continue preparing for my trip, I didn’t initially notice that the website asked that I enter my name in a specific format; with a slash in between.

family name/given name

For the sake of this post, I’ll make up a name…

let’s say my name is Lisa-Marie Wilkinson

I’ve got a double-barrelled first name. I’ve written about the issues I face online because of this several times.

I also know the importance of getting your name right when you book a flight and the potentially costly nature of getting any of your personal details wrong.

Remembering that airlines definitely don’t like hyphens I entered my name without it.

  1. lisa marie wilkinson
  2. lisamarie wilkinson

Then I realised that the website wanted me to enter my name in backwards with a slash in between…

  1. wilksinson/lisa marie
  2. wilkinson/lisamarie

but this threw up an error with a very vague error message but I was certain that this was my name.

after carefully scanning the page to see if there was anything I’d missed and opened their FAQ page in a separate tab. I was still unsure where I was going wrong.

I entered my name with a few other permutations; capitalisation my name in case that was the issue. Then I thought “let me add my middle name?”



Now to try and check-in for the person I was flying with. they had a double-barrelled last name. but I had learnt my lesson now, checking in for them should be much quicker.

Their name;

Gabrielle carmen thomas-carmichael

I knew it would have to be entered as;


❌ wrong answer

Their name was too long…

But I had no clue where to next, so back to the FAQ I trundled. getting increasingly frustrated and anxious that;

  1. we wouldn’t be able to check-in online and would, therefore, have to arrive at the airport earlier
  2. we would have a middle seat for an 11-hour flight

With the potential consequences of not being about to complete the tasks being so high I persevered….

What would they want the middle name to be?

Turns out you can use a single letter for your middle name if your name is too long

  1. thomascarmichael/gabriellec

And for fun, it also didn’t work until removed a letter from the surname.

All in all, it was a horrible user experience, but the reward outweighed the pain. In many cases, users have the option to go somewhere else and choose another service. however, sometimes; they have no choice but to continue down an unpleasant journey – vowing never to return to your service once they’ve completed the transactions. that is not a great place to be with your service.

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