Virgin Airlines as a case study into development failure

While on holiday I found myself interacting with some of Virgin’s software and infrastructure.

To start with I tried registering for their app while waiting in the departure lounge.

It’s not normal to have a password with a 12 character max length that will one accept letters or numbers. That is a security fail.

On the night before our departure my wife received a text message telling us to check in.

Checking the website from a mobile phone told us to try again 2 hours later. This is inconsistent messaging.

Two hours later the website would let us start but insisted on us using an app. We downloaded the app, but found that it wanted us to enter our passport and address details – something we had clearly done before as we had already flown to the Caribbean. The app had an interesting user interface. It would tell you that something was wrong but give no clue as to how to fix it. This is a UX fail.

We attempted to use the hotel supplied tablet but was frustrated by it’s 1 min auto refresh – the website was unable to complete a simple transaction between the console refreshing.

Finally we managed to use my wife’s tablet to check in. This time it was fine.

Virgin really need to look at their systems. Forcing mobile users to use a broken app is not helpful. Prompting users to check in when the system is not ready is also not a good idea. Asking for information that has already been given with a UI that can alter the info without sane error handling is a bad idea.