Mobile solutions company Incentivated power the new SMS flight info service for British Airways. Fantastic, SMS is easy peasy, so let’s hear more about it:

According to Mobile Marketing Watch:

The service, available for UK- and US-registered mobile phones, enables users to get up-to-the-minute flight information for yesterday, today and the next five days. Users text D for Departures or A for Arrivals followed by a space, the departure date of the flight (in the form DDMMYY or MMDDYY for the US) and the British Airways flight number (eg BAXXXX) to 60747 in the UK, 70615 in the US.

OOohh laawwd – how the hell is anyone meant to use this service again if they have to remember all that?

So I decided to give it a try and deliberately entered false details to see if I would get a error message back saying explaining how to do it correctly. I.e “Sorry that was wrong, please try again by entering D or A….”

Nope! If you get it wrong, well you better just remember the format and get it right.

How could this be improved:

  • A good error text-back notifying the user that there has been a problem with their intial SMS due to typing incorrectly and tell them how to do it properly.
  • Something this complicated would benefit from changing the user journey from one single message to three. Here’s how:
  1. User texts in either D or A (or departures/arrivals) to shortcode
  2. BA sends back message asking for departure date
  3. User sends back departure date
  4. BA sends back message asking for flight number
  5. User sends back flight number
  6. BA sends flight info. JOB DONE.

That way the user doesn’t need to remember how to correctly format the message because they get reminded at every stage. Yes it would cost BA more in SMS costs but repeat usage would increase.