How can airlines tailor user experience for fare families

Airlines looking to maximise the effectiveness of fare families should focus on improving their user experience. Engaging with user experience means weighing up the importance of fare brand identity, giving the users the ability to compare fare brands and enticing them to upgrade.

In order to avoid common UX pain points, airlines must decide how to position their fare family offerings and whether they need to be more aggressive or subtle in upsell. Designing the best UX involves asking questions. Currently, the most important question may be: how should airlines utilise different tactical approaches to provide the best experience for their customers whilst providing a broad set of offers?

The current trend

There has been a trend of airlines adding more fare families to their offerings. This strategy has given users more choice. Users are now more likely to find a bundle that suits their travel needs. It is reflective of a trend towards increased personalization and catering for the needs of the consumer.

It is important to provide choice, and it is good that users have more fare options. However, the current trend does present some challenges from a user experience perspective. The wide range of options creates an added density of information on screen, which already has a lot of information for users to process.

Compelling UX design has never been more important for airlines than it is now. Fare family offers need to clearly communicate distinctive fare features and provide users with all relevant information to select a fare. This can be achieved by focusing on branding fare families, providing users with ways to compare fares, and enticing users with upsell. |

Branding fare families

Sometimes airlines struggle to create a clear identity for their fare brands. Strong branding is a good way of establishing an engaging user experience.  This can be done by defining fare brand characteristics through naming, iconography, and colour.

Fare brand names are the simplest way to communicate fare characteristics. When naming a fare brand, it should quickly articulate what features are unique to the fare. For example, Scoot has an effective approach to branding by simply stating what is included in the fare– “FlyBagEat”.

Complimenting a fare family with a visual identity is another method to brand fare families. When users scan a set of options, iconography improves recognition and helps make associations. Key differentiators can be highlighted, which allow users to quickly identify fare features.

Colour is often used to categorise and differentiate fare families. When choosing colours for your fares, you should consider the psychological element of colour theory. Lighter hues are often used for less expensive fares, whereas a premium fare could be presented as more distinct and saturated. As users familiarise themselves with an airline’s offerings, colour creates an immediately recognisable association.

Example from Scoot

Comparing fares

Airlines deploy many different tactics to compare fares. From a user experience perspective, creating comparable points of interest is a great way of engaging potential customers.

Some airlines choose to show only what is included in the fare such as baggage allowance, seating and flexibility. This is a popular option for airlines when displaying fare families. There are other approaches that have also proved effective.

Example from Iberia

Some airlines have opted to show what is both included and excluded. The fare options that are excluded are often greyed out or illustrated with a strike through them. This is a good way of displaying information and showing what users are missing out on by opting for cheaper fares. Other airlines have also shown exclusions as a chargeable item.

Progressive disclosure is another approach which allows users to compare fare brands. Typically, a small set of characteristics are displayed by default to minimise the amount of content on screen. Users can further compare all attributes in an expanded organized table view. A table display is not compelling from a design perspective, but it is a straightforward way for the user to compare fares.

Example from Aeromexico


When creating a user experience with multiple fare families, there’s an added layer of complexity when considering upsell. Airlines will attempt to persuade users who select a basic or economy fare to move to the next fare family. If the cost of next option is marginal, a user might consider an upgrade when shown a difference in price between fares. Showing what additional ancillaries and benefits are included with the next fare is a subtle way to entice users.

These methods are effective but relatively tame. Upselling can be more aggressive. For example, Virgin Atlantic launches a modal when a Light fare is selected. The Classic fare is promoted by showing users what benefits they are missing out on with a Light fare. The primary call-to-action to continue is focused on the Classic fare to further encourage upsell. Techniques for upselling mustn’t become off-putting for users or trick them into choosing a product they did not want. It is about finding the right balance between a navigable display and an inviting set of fare families offers.

Example from Virgin Atlantic


The current trends suggest that airlines will continue to offer a wide range of fare family bundles. It will be essential for the user experience to provide users with a clear, concise view of all available options. By giving users the ability to quickly identify characteristics of fare families, airlines can put users at the core of the user experience and help them make an informed choice.

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