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 potential costly nature of getting any of your personal details wrong.
Remembering that airlines definitely don’t like hyphens I entered my name without it.
- lisa marie wilkinson
- lisamarie wilkinson
Then I realised that the website wanted me to enter my name in backwards with a slash in between…
- wilksinson/lisa marie
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 opening 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; capitalisating 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 a lot quicker.
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;
- we wouldn’t be able to check-in online and would, therefore, have to arrive at the airport earlier
- 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
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 an option to go somewhere else and choose another service. however, sometimes; they have no choice but to continue down an unpleasant journey – vowing to never return to your service once they’ve completed the transactions. that is not a great place to be with your service.