Are Progressive Web Apps a game-changer for airlines?

“Native app or responsive design?”

This has been the conundrum faced by airlines that have set their sights on the ever growing mobile market.

Native apps have the advantage of being designed from scratch for mobile use, which tends to result in a more pleasant user experience when accessed through mobile devices. They can also send push notifications and run some tasks offline.

Yet, they also have serious drawbacks. Not only do you need to develop a version for each of the dominant mobile platforms if you wish to reach a broad audience, but many potential users simply can’t be bothered to download them...and of those that do, the odds are that most won’t be using it anyway! (data of % of little used apps).

Responsive design, in turn facilitates access, but it can be lacking in terms of user experience and this can hamper your mobile presence.

With the evolving growing trend within the travel industry towards mobile bookings, and a mobile first eCommerce strategy being the prevailing option in many markets, it is essential for airlines to get the most suitable, scalable and cost effective solution right from the start.

Luckily for those facing this difficult decision, PWA technology comes to the rescue!

What is PWA?

PWA, that stands for Progressive Web App, offers an interesting compromise between the best features of both, native apps and responsive design. And one of its most interesting features is that you will only have to build, update and maintain one platform: your website.

It, basically, offers many of the capabilities and convenience of an app, but without having to abandon the web.

Are Progressive Web Apps a game-changer for airlines?

Why would you launch a PWA website?

  • You can install it in your home screen for easy access - If a user visits your website multiple times get the option of adding it to their home screen. After that, it’s still linkable and therefore shareable via URL.
  • Indexable - It is visible in web browsers and, therefore, appears on web search results.
  • Offline - Once on your device, you can consume content from the app without an Internet connection.
  • Can send push notifications - Whenever a new article/product/piece of news shows up, you get notified by means of Push API and Notification API. This is a useful tool to keep your customers engaged.
  • Cut down page load time - PWAs can significantly reduce page load times and thus improve overall UX.
  • Progressive -They will work on any device, even with a poor Internet connection.
  • Seamless update - As it runs on the browser, whenever you launch it, you will see the latest version.
  • Faster & Leaner -Websites load faster, consume less data and take out less memory.
  • Uploadable to stores - You can upload them to the app stores, for both Apple and Android. 

And last but not least: it’s way cheaper (to build, upgrade and maintain)!

There’s one minor drawback though: mobile payments can’t be processed. But, luckily, there is a way around it, with some caveats. W3C Payment Request API provides a browser native UI for checkout, showing summary, payment methods, etc. And data such as CC number, cardholder, etc. come from data stored in the browser.

In any case, as an airline, you can also use the option to store the frequent forms of payment that most PSS systems offer.


Airlines and PWA

Owing to its novelty, and perhaps also to the fact that many airlines have invested heavily in their own native apps, adoption of PWA in the airline industry has so far been limited, with notoriously tech-savvy Virgin America being one of the first to launch a PWA site, just before it got acquired by Alaska Airlines.

Although not an airline, another large travel operator that switched to PWA is MakeMyTrip, India’s top digital travel company. In a market where mobile is by far the preferred channel to check travel options, MakeMyTrip has allegedly managed to treble (!) its conversion rate and increase the length of its users’ sessions by a whooping 160% thanks to PWA.

Airlines and PWA

This is consistent with the increasing popularity of PWA among leading digital players such as Twitter, Google Maps, Instagram, Pinterest, The Washington Post or Tinder, as well as numerous online retailers, that in some cases have experienced dramatic performance boosts.

All of this makes us extremely bullish about the prospects of this promising technology and the opportunities it opens for the airline industry.

In fact, we, at Newshore are already working on our first PWA implementation for one of our airline customers, with some more coming up in the pipeline. PWA is also now supported on our newshore_booking solution.

For more interesting data and references about the current state of PWA technology you can check:


About Newshore

Newshore is a technology consultancy firm serving the airline industry. With a team of over 100 IT professionals, headquarters in Barcelona (Spain) and production centers in Colombia and the Philippines. Newshore delivers e-commerce solutions to low cost carriers (LCC) and hybrid airlines all over the world, boosting their revenues while keeping their operational costs low.