An iPhone Application just to have an iPhone Application

Last Sunday my parents were leaving after visiting me and my family. They were heading back to Switzerland after a 3 months stay in california due to our 3 month old addition to the family, my proud little baby girl, Kirra.

After I read that Switzerland, and the rest of Europe were getting hit by one snow storm after another, and some major airports had to re-route flights, I downloaded the new iPhone Application for SWISS AIRLINES . I figured having this application on my iPhone would make it a lot easier for me to check flights, since we almost exclusively fly SWISS.

I would say I am an advocate for the SWISS Brand. Their in-flight meals are great and customer service is outstanding. So after I downloaded and installed the iPhone application on my iPhone, I expected a similar brand experience. I was hoping to have all the info needed to make sure my family and friend’s flights to and from Switzerland are on time. A nicely designed interface welcomed me after launching the application. Simple, clean and elegant, just as you would expect from a brand like SWISS. Flight status, Timetable, Check-in, Booking, My Profile and Contacts clearly labeled my choices. After clicking on Flight status, I got to choose between Arrivals and Departures, and then I got let down by one of my favorite brands. I click on Departures and the iPhone application closes, Safari opens and connects me to to the Swiss Airlines Website…

At first, I thought it was a mistake; that I clicked on something I didn’t intend to, so I went back to the iPhone app, repeated my steps, and again, I find myself on the Swiss Airlines website.

What a pointless waste of effort, probably rushed to market by some high-level executives, trying to catch up with one of their competitors’ product. In fact, this iPhone application, or a mere group of weblinks, is not only a useless application, but much worse, it hurts a great brand.

So instead of just ranting on about how bad of an effort this “application” is, what would be some really useful features? Here are some ideas that came to mind:

  1. Most obvious, quick and easy access to all arrival and departure information without leaving the actual application (I don’t want to have to use html Dropdown menus to find a flight on a certain date and time)
  2. Location based finder. If my iPhone knows where I am at, it could spit out the closest airports SWISS and it’s partners fly to and from. So when I start the application in Irvine, CA, it automatically asks me if I am looking for flight to and from LAX, since SWISS doesn’t fly directly into John Wayne.
  3. Average check-in time and average wait time until your visitors actually come out of the gate after going through Customs and Immigration.
  4. Again, based on your location, driving time to and and from the airport. Google can do it with real time traffic information!

I am sure there are a lot of features and ideas that could make an application like this a useful product and offer the user some real benefits, besides SWISS now being able to say “We have an iPhone application too!”

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