Airline websites and airline apps get a bad rap, and for good reason. They’re usually cluttered with poor design decisions, and hard to understand user interfaces, assuming the apps actually work. Visiting the review pages for any number of airline apps on the various app stores usually involves reading just about as many irate reviews as positive ones.Using Alaska Airlines’ app, however, has always been a good experience for me, and it recently got even better. I’ve been a somewhat frequent flyer on Alaska for the past 5 years, and for much of that time, I used the company’s mobile app to check in for my flights and download mobile boarding passes onto my iPhone’s Passbook app. To date, it hasn’t failed me once.
The airline’s iPhone app recently got a facelift, which finally brings it in line with the design principles of iOS 7 and improving the overall experience.
Users can book trips straight from the app, manage their mileage balance, and keep up with the details of the trips that they already have booked, as well. People looking for a particular seat can also preview what’s available on the flight they’re looking at, so they can decide where to sit before buying.
If there’s one choice that really frustrated me about the app, it’s Alaska’s trip-booking interface for multiple flights in the same trip. The app shows users when they leave their departing airport and when they arrive at their destination, but doesn’t provide details about layovers until they tap on a tiny “Details” text link. Once there, users can’t get back to the previous screen without scrolling all the way up to the top of the view and tapping another tiny text link.
The new design hasn’t trickled down to Android users just yet, but they are still able to use the older-looking but functional previous design. Windows Phone users have their own version of the app that’s tailored to look like the other applications available for Microsoft’s mobile platform.
I haven’t had a chance to go hands-on with that app, but it carries a 4.5 star average on the Windows Phone Store, with users praising its reliability. One review in particular called it “One of the better airline apps for WP8.”
Obviously, airline app use will be dictated by which company covers the airports a user wants to visit. But smartphone users who fly Alaska would do well to have this app installed on their phones.