Comparative Analysis of Flight Search Representations

Comparative Analysis of Flight Search Representations

Aimal Tariq Rextin (COMSATS University, Islamabad, Pakistan), Fatima Iftekhar (Barani Institute of Management Sciences, Rawalpindi, Pakistan), Muhammad Muddasir Malik (NUST School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Islamabad, Pakistan) and Faheem Abbas (NUST School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Islamabad, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/JOEUC.2019100104
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Visualization has been extensively used in almost all the fields, but unfortunately, there is very little work on the visualization of flight search. The literature discusses only two representations: textual representation and linear representation. In this study, the authors introduce a new form of visualization called circular representation and compare it with the existing visualization techniques. The authors found that each representation has its own merits and demerits. More specifically, they found that users were able to find required flight circular efficiently when using circular representation, while most errors were committed by the user when using textual representation, and users ranked circular representation low in terms of qualitative satisfaction.
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In an ever-changing technologically developed world, it is a challenge to predict users’ behavior and understand the attitudes of users when they choose, plan, and book airline tickets (Kucukusta, Law, Besbes, & Legohérel, 2015; Østergaard & Möller, 2015). The airline industry is one of the fastest-changing industries because of an increasingly globalized world. Travel agents used to be the main provider of booking systems, but with the development of information technology, this trend has shifted and booking systems are now accessible to users at their homes. So, the entire planning and booking of airline tickets has shifted from an offline medium to an online one (Østergaard & Möller, 2015; Sporrek & Christiansson, 2004). Nowadays, it is easy to book flights without the help of a travel agent by using travel Web sites. Travel Web sites have the added advantage that one can explore many options that would be a bit difficult to explain to an agent (He, Wang, Yang, & Yu, 2007). Due to technical developments, it is important that airlines adapt to better ways of presenting travel information to users (Buhalis & Law, 2008; D. J. Kim, Kim, & Han, 2007), for example, making information more usable, useful, and universally accessible (Carstens, 2005; Carstens & Patterson, 2005; Smith, 2008).

Researchers have used the following visualizations in their studies.

Textual flight representation is used by most travel Web sites to represent flight information. An illustration of this representation is shown in Figure 1. Several researchers have based their study on this representation technique; for example, Ju and colleagues discuss how usability of this type of representation can be improved (Ju, Park, & Lee, 2013). Similarly, Maddah and Kavakli proposed a recommendation system that was also based on this visualization technique (Maddah, Amir, 2014; Maddah & Kavakli, 2013).

Figure 1.

Textual flight representation


Linear flight representation is a color-coded, visualization-based flight search. All flights are shown in a timeline as horizontal bars, as shown in Figure 2. Hipmunk is an example of linear flight representation.

Figure 2.

Linear flight representation


Various pros and cons are associated with both of these visualization techniques. For example, finding the appropriate flight according to a user’s preference is slightly difficult in the textual representation, as it takes more time to choose the relevant flight. The problem in the case of linear flight search is that it shows only 15 to 20 flights and a user has to move to the next page to see more flight options.

In this paper, we introduce a new type of visualization for travel information that we call circular representation. This new visualization shows all relevant information to the user at the same time. We then compare the performance of this new type of visualization technique with the existing flight representation techniques. The main focus of this research study is to evaluate the usability of the three representations (i.e., textual, linear, and circular). More specifically, we conducted a controlled experiment to compare these representations in terms of the three components of usability: effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction.

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