Customer journey Etihad Airlines
I recently flew with Etihad airlines to my great satisfaction, great airline and I do prefer it to the European legacy carriers.
During traveling I constantly think about customer journeys, signposting, screens. Can't help it, it goes automatically.
Also on this journey to from SPL to AUH to MNL, I thought of many small improvements, just I didn't store any screenshots or pictures. I decided to take pictures on my next journey with Etihad.
The Etihad customer journey to Bangkok in pictures
Yesterday I booked another flight, again with Etihad. Different destination, so the customer journey may change a little (for example a "fit to fly certificate" is not needed), but I decided to make screenshots of all touch points until I have reached my destination.
the platform that I use for this blog, doesn't really give the tools to
really display a well plotted journey map, but I guess a few
screenshots can also be interesting for people also active in the
customer experience field.
that I fly economy, as a regular (holiday) traveler. So nothing fancy.
So that is also the way I view this journey, from a tourist/holiday
I have pre-filled in 90% of the Etihad Guest profile, so they actually already know a little bit about me.
Etihad does not have in their profile section the option to let them know if you are a leisure or business traveler (or both), seems strange as that can really help improve the customer journey.
In my opinion, the profile section is not asking or collecting the right data. I see many improvements there. But as this blog is about the customer journey in general, I will not dive into the profile section deeply as probably most holiday travelers don't use the Etihad guest miles system.
Date : march 4th, 2023
Yeah😃! I booked ticket to BKK received this email:
- The e-mail has all essential information and is leightweighted for good deliverability.
- The email it's look and feel is not really attractive, the average design is a bit outdated.
- My first name is in capital, should be "Alex".
- Sometimes part of the images in the email do not show (at least in gmail).
- There is no "read this email online" link available.
- Etihad already knows my final destination, why not add a simple bangkok picture? It would not harm the deliverability and would make me feel more certain and enthousiastic on the destination and journey.
- As we all know, an e-mail does not end in an inbox, the landingpages are essential. There is a link in the email to an e-Ticket, which basically is a breakdown of all taxes/costs and the itinerary
I guess this is used especially in business environments.
There is a 'print' button present as well although too small, it is available.
I would suggest to make the print button more visible and to add a "share" possibility, so users can easily share it with their accountant or collegues. Also includea PDF version as many saas tools that help in administration use the PDF format for processing these documents semi automatically.
- A "what happens next" paragraph is not available, something simple like that gives users extra confidence?
- There is also a link in the email that points to a fare overview "To find out more about the fare rules for your ticket, please visit etihad.com/farechoices.
This page is just a generic page, however the link says "for your ticket. It implies it is specifically for me, but it is not. I land on a generic page with a table where I can select "economy, business, and first class. Also it has a border on one of the columns, this is quite confusing as it seems to point to what I booked, but this is not true.
So in my opinion, the landingpage does not connect fully to the link in the email.
I am logged in to the app, with the same account I booked with.
Turned out there is no information available in the app regarding my just purchased flight.
That's a bit strange. I would have expected that to sync directly. Just like your shopping cart at Amazon is synced from desktop to the app immediately. That gives confidence and more convenience to the users.
Date: march 16th
I decided to click on the Etihad app, during my daily commute to work, as part of dreaming of my holiday approaching.
Needed to log in again, don't know why, a bit annoying.
I logged in via email and password that I had to look up in my password manager, as it is not possible to login via fingerprint or passcode in the app (suggestion!)
Soon the new "Fido Alliance" standard will be used at more and more websites, might be an idea for Etihad to offer this as well.
Turned out my flight is still not in the app (not synced) so I did this part manually today. I also activated all slides to get updated.
do like, especially the slider for feedback. Furthermore, I am a big fan of asking
for feedback at the moment, or very shortly after, you experienced
something. Tiny surveys at the right time. In my opinion, that represents
a much better customer or traveler experience. Let's keep that idea in
mind to see how the organized the customer feedback loop.
Let's wait and see.
Date : march 17th
I received (I think) a generic promotional email about my collected miles. Nothing special, lots of information to what one can do with miles and selling opportunities. Not related to my booking, not any recognition on that aspect. It also arrived in my "promotional" folder in Gmail.
The email had a little animation on top, that felt like I received some kind of award, prize or gift, but turned out not to be.
Date: march 29th.
Yeeeh, I received another official email about the coming trip.
- It's always nice to receive an email about an upcoming trip. Makes you realize soon it is time to travel again.
- Suddenly the booking reference changed. That's very strange. Compared to the first email I now have another booking reference. It confused me a bit.
- I guess the topic of this email is to get users to collect all the info needed to make sure they comply to the travel regulations and to try to sell them some upgrades. Maybe better to seperate these topics, one topic per email. It will probably result in a higher conversion.
- The landingpage gave me a captcha message, but this appeared only after loading the page, so I actually only saw it after recording the video, so might be an idea to improve that, as many people will use VPN (like I also did) that probably caused the captcha message.
- The email is clipped by Gmail. There are several reasons that can make that happen, in this case my guess is it is because only a few days later, they send more or less the same email with the same subjectline (see next item).
- This email seems to have different goals (selling upgrades and check travel regulations). Better to make seperate emails or contact moments. Many of those can also be just as easy pushed via the app instead of email. Worth testing what works best for the user.
- Etihad has all my details, they know I am from the Netherlands, I have a Dutch passport, why still asking me the travel regulations? In this case (different from the flight to Manila) I do not need any registration at all. So why not already inform me of that. I understand they probably cannot legally say that I do not need to check the requirements, but they can make it easier I think.
- As written earlier the succes of an email often depends on the landingpage.
- This email points me to this page, where I can check if I meet the local regulations.It is just a generic page, accessible for all, but they already know my itinerary, so why not pre-select it when I click a link? Now I have to take extra effort to get to the result I want.
- Also when I type my itinerary (there is no example shown how to select when making a transit, so I just select Amsterdam to Bangkok) I get a notification for a covid test.This is not needed. Now I understand this is all very complex to maintain and setup and there are always exceptions but this one seems a bit outdated.
After selecting you get two buttons: "Flying from Amsterdam" and "Flying to Bangkok". This is not consistent. It should then be "Flying from Amsterdam" and "Flying from Abu Dhabi" or even better to really make it clear for the user: "Flying from Amsterdam" to Abu Dhabi" and "Flying from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok".
- The landingpage (as it is generic for everyone) als has a button "book your flight" but I just came to this page because I booked a flight. I would suggest to make a page not accesible in generic but dedicated pages for use in email or the app etc. Use the timeless "Don't make me think" adagium, it always helps a lot to make user interfaces better.
Date: march 30th
On March the 30th, I received exactly the same email. 100% the same.
This can be a mistake in configuration of the journey or on purpose, I
cannot tell. I can only say it is annoying but also makes it more
difficult to read the email, as Gmail (that I use as a main email
client) clips in this case the email. It is not easy to read it all in
the Gmail interface.
Date: april 7th
I received the "check in online email" a few hours before departure.
- It's a simple email.
- Besides the info about the booking, there is not much entertainment or feeling in this email. Not any visually relevant images (besides the Abu Dhabi picture) the text is not entertaining or fun to read, just basic. It doesn't give me the Etihad feeling.
- The landingpage here is where there are many improvements possible. I fly from the Netherlands and as a Duch citizen I do not need any visa for Thailand, still on the landingpage it seemed visually that that visa is mandatory. It took me a while to bypass that step.
- There is a lot of upselling on the checkin page, mostly too expensive for me. That can in my opinion also be optimzed. I am willing to spend a bit more, but just a bit, not 600 euro's more. Or give me an option to do a prize draw to win a better seat. Just for 5-10 USD, I would be happy to gamble a bit.
Date: april 8th
After succesfully checking in, I received the email with the boarding pass.
Just like all other emails it is quite long, to long in my opinion, lots of scrolling on mobile. But it again has all essential information.
- It's a simple email. and there is a clear "what to do next" section. Unfortunately only at the bottom of the email.
- Google Wallet is not supported. There is only a link to apple wallet, or at least so it appears.
- The attached PDF has a clear indication of when you need to arrive at the airport, that's all missing in the email itself.
The Etihad Android app
The app itself has a nice interface, but is quite and maybe even very slow. Even at a fast connection with a low latency, it is slow. I think lots of improvement in conversion/experience possible by just improving the speed. I just wanted to reserve my seat, but it was so slow that I gave up for today.
It also keeps on asking me the same question, over and over again, to choose an account to access my calendar. A little annoying.
No automatic history
Despite the fact that I flew to Manila just a few weeks ago, it does not appear on my "past trips" list. When I notice these things, I always lose a little trust in the app or platform.
No easy access to the boarding pass
When I went to the bag drop off at the counter at Schiphol airport, I wanted to show my boarding pass, after all I did some effort to get one. I opened the Etihad app and I expected that it has a huge button "boarding pass", but no, that was not available. I needed to press "check in" again to let the boarding pass email to myself. A little odd, this can be so much easier. In the end, I did not even need the boarding pass. I got a paper one from at the check in counter. That one was not synced to the app, so I needed to use paper instead.
False information on a delay
When I was waiting at the gate, I tried the app. At that moment the app indicated there was a delay, but at the gate they told me there was not any delay, so also a sync issue I guess, giving false information.
What I miss in the app is the possibility to give feedback in a very
simple way at the moment something occurs. If this has been set up, a
customer experience dashboard can be made and with that, it is much easier to prioritze changes and improve the passenger experience.
Simple things like:
- How did you like our meal?
- Were you able to find your luggage collection belt belt easily?
- Did you had a good sleep?
This should all be possible using the in-flight entertainment system or via the app even in-flight.
The Etihad customer journey is not over when passengers leave the plane.
Cookie modal preventing check-in
That problems like this occur, usually has to do with a lack of testing on multiple devices.
Quite some work to do to make this app perform better but if it does, I think it can be very powerful to improve the customer experience for Etihad.
- The Etihad website and Etihad Guest website are quite slow. Also, page speed insights from Google confirmed that. There is quite some work to do there. Websites from other airlines are much faster, you really notice this when you need to arrange things for your upcoming flight.
- The difference between the Etihad website and the Etihad Guest website is also sometimes confusing, I guess it grew this way, but an integration will be much better for the average user.
- There is (with more airlines) often a huge push on selecting seats and paying for it. Understandable, but in this case, the second leg I flew, from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok, the plane was almost empty. Maybe it was occupied for only 30%.
This resulted in the staff telling people, they could sit anywhere they want.
Now that's nice of course, but Etihad already knew when I checked in,
this plane was not going to be full. Why not use an (AI) algorithm to
give everyone the best seat possible for their preferences?
Or if that's not possible, to give more free options while selecting seats during the check in. This adds massive value for the customers.
On my way back from Bangkok, I noticed this sign with a QR code. I
always try these things to see if they work. The idea is of course very nice. Skip the longer line for check-in and just do it here at this
point, and you can use the bag drop line.
I wonder how many people actually do this, but I tried to scan the code and to see what happened.
the sign says is : "scan the QR code and check in now".
But when I did that, I did not see an easy to use "check-in page". Instead I found myself being redirected to this page:
This is just a "booking page".
Now I am sure in the end -by clicking many times- you can check-in, but it should be much easier. Especially when you are in an airport waiting, in a noisy environment, you want to check-in with as less effort as possible.
I liked flying with Etihad, new planes, friendly staff, awesome entertainment system and a good transit airport. I do think a lot can be done to improve the Etihad experience even more.
For now I give the customer experience a moderate "7". The basics are alright but there is lot's of improvements posisble.
On the customer journey part so many things are changing in the coming years. With open platforms (like Nostr), global permission less payment systems, and AI capabilities, the difference will be more and more on how companies design experiences.
A special note:
A special note and thank you for my friend Nicolai, who's profession is "master aircraft fueler" and he also fuels Etihad's EY78 at Schiphol. I met him during departure and promised him to enclose him in the joruney blog story as he actually also is part of the customer journey in my case.
The master aircraft fueler N. van Rosmalen" at the gate.
Happy Etihad Traveling!