The New

Technology, United

I’ve actually been meaning to write about this for awhile, but for some reason it kept getting pushed into the corner and I’m just dusting it off now.

After a short period of beta testing, United has now integrated the new version of its booking engine onto its site. This has been a long time in the making, and it’s really way overdue. If you’ve heard frequent users talk about United’s website in the past, you’ve probably heard it called United.bomb. Of course, you can scan FlyerTalk today and hear all the complaints about the new site as well, but in reality it’s a nice improvement.
The first thing you’ll notice on the home page is that it’s no longer just search by price and schedule. You can now also search by flex dates but only for roundtrip itineraries. One way and multi-city don’t have that functionality.
If you do a search by price, it still just lists possible itineraries from lowest to highest price, but now there’s a grid at the top that looks like this:
ua grid

So now you can see nonstop vs. one stop as well as different fares for different classes of service. Really, it’s a good improvement over the lack of info before, but it’s not really anything revolutionary. Unfortunately, the results below the grid still only show the lowest fare, so there is no way to see how much different classes cost on a specific itinerary unless you keep clicking between all the links and then searching for the itinerary you want.

The best news here is that you can now click to see the seat map right from the results instead of having to pretend like you’re making a reservation for a couple screens. Nice work there.

Another nice feature is you can now click over to see the search by schedule or flex dates from this page fairly quickly. The schedule search is the same as it was when it was introduced over a year ago, but this is still by far my favorite way to search for United flights. If gives you a choice of outbound and return flights side by side. As you change which flights are highlighted, it dynamically updates the price for you on the right. The interface is slightly improved, but other than that, no changes (not that they were needed).

Then there’s the flex dates option which is pretty basic. The results still show just as they do in the search by price option, but now the grid is changed to show you multiple date options as follows:

ua flex grid

As you can see, it shows you the lowest available fare two days before and after the dates you’ve chosen. I suppose that is helpful to know if you can be flexible in your timing, but it would be nice if you could break it down further by time of day.

Overall, it’s a good improvement for United, and I’m glad to see they’ve finally upgraded the booking engine. They are definitely due for a full site overhaul though, so hopefully that’s coming soon as well.

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