Testing Airline Digital Applications: A Case for Responsive Design

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Individual commercial airline responses to global trends will determine carrier performance in the coming years.

(1) Background: The State of the Airline Business

The global airline industry continues to grow rapidly, but consistent profitability remains elusive. Airline industry revenues have doubled in the last 10 years, reaching a value of USD 746 billion in 2014, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In the commercial aviation sector, just about every player in the value chain—airports, airplane manufacturers, jet engine makers, travel agents, and service companies—have experienced profits. However, the airline industry struggles to break even, with some airlines going out of business. Individual commercial airline responses to global trends will determine carrier performance in the coming years.

Airport operators also face additional challenges. Not only do they make sure that planes run on time, they also ensure the smooth, daily movement of passengers in large numbers across multiple terminals. Travelers today are very tech-savvy; they want to have all their gadgets function as if at home in order to be able to conduct digital activities during travel as they would at home or at work. Air travelers demand enhanced experiences when buying products or services online.

Consumer disaffection is challenging for carriers to address. However, there is good news! If upgrading the actual aircraft or “hard product” presents an expensive path toward differentiation and a long payback period, enhancing the service or “soft product” through seamless customer experience is the way for airline carriers to raise their profitability. This calls for serious digital transformation efforts, some of which are already underway at many airlines.

(2) Role of Digitization

The digital revolution has peaked and is now altering traditional industries such as utilities, industrial goods, and airlines, among others. Executives in these industries recognize that sensors, machines, and IT systems can be connected to analyze data, enabling faster, more flexible, and more efficient processes. However, many of these executives struggle to understand how they can create strategic advantages by adopting digital practices.

At many airports, digital technologies and services are improving the passenger experience beyond mobile boarding passes and text message alerts. The business processes impacted by digital transformation fall within the purview of Airline Digital BPM.

With much of this transformation happening across processes, retaining the quality of the product is important. Testers are constantly revamping traditional testing strategies, just as carriers devise ways of facilitating the adoption of these changes. In this blog, we explore both quality assurance and testing of airline digital applications.

(3) QA and Testing in the Airline Industry

Changes in customer behavior and increased global competition are the two key challenges currently facing the airline industry. Adapting to social media channels, cloud, and mobile technologies is a way for airlines to cope with these challenges. More and more travelers reserve airline tickets online, which requires travel agencies and airlines to focus on the customer experience their websites provide. Quality assurance and testing plays a critical role in ensuring that business conducted online results in a smooth customer experience that is secure and reliable. It is important for airline carriers to have an appropriate digital assurance strategy by identifying the right tools, methodologies, and measures to implement a seamless customer experience. From our experience, there are three important factors to consider when seeking high quality airline software testing: business rules implementation, system integration, and non-functional testing.

3.1 Testing Business Rules Implementation

Airlines need to customize business, packaging, and pricing rules. These customizations should be accurately implemented as part of the online booking process. Parameters such as passenger amount limitation, infant tax calculation, selling insurance policy, and loyalty service each have their own respective business rules and contribute to the complexity of test case design. Testers need domain knowledge to test the implementation of business rules. The ticketing process is not always a serial flow. A number of business rules within the booking process need to be considered when creating test strategy. From a quality perspective, airline application testing needs to ensure both adherence to industry regulations and ease of use in order to prevent user mistakes, The airline application test strategy needs to account for user preferences—including browser and behavior—and robust test case design using orthogonal arrays, cause effect graphing, and state transition diagram techniques depending on user scenarios and application functionality.

3.2 Systems Integration Testing

Travel booking services are usually based on one of the following platforms: Global Distribution System (GDS), otherwise known as Computer Reservation System (CRS) and the Internet Booking Engine (IBE) combined with a payment system. Each of these components has evolved in complexity and has more and more functionality, making it critical to integration. The requirements need to be specified clearly as well as early. GDS, CRS, and payment systems have very strict performance tolerances. Slow responses when retrieving information may result in the UI not rendering correctly or a failed ticket transaction and as such, seamless integration with low overhead is essential.

3.3 Non-Functional Testing

The way people access web applications is changing. It is no longer restricted to browsers on a laptop or desktop; tablets or mobile phones with varying screen sizes represent additional formats used for consuming information and carrying out transactions. In order to keep a user on your website or application, aesthetics and ease of usability are key components about which businesses should be concerned.

(4) Testing Responsive Web Designs

Responsive web designs are being used for building attractive web applications. They make your webpage look good on all devices: desktops, tablets, and phones. Responsive Web Design is about using CSS and HTML to resize, hide, shrink, enlarge, or move content to make it load effectively on any screen.

Responsive design results in the following benefits:

  • It provides an optimal viewing and interaction experience with easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling across a wide range of devices
  • It provides consistent UX and coverage across all digital platforms It supports end user workflow across multiple screens
  • It can handle any new OS or platform release
  • It consolidates resources and aligns business goals across platforms

Most software applications developed today are responsive. Manually testing responsive applications across multiple platforms is time consuming. That’s why there is a need for a responsive automation framework that can complete automated responsive checks on the application, draft mock-ups, and report failures.

Given the multiple channels needed to access responsive deign applications, automation is required in order to reduce the time to test. Traditional automation tools fail to test such dynamic web pages. One system, the selenium web driver, is a powerful tool to combat these shortcomings thanks to its UI element identification flexibility. Furthermore, many commercial tools inherited older identification methods such as XPath and CSS. It is, however, the creation of select functions that may help support logical interactions with web applications. The Galen framework, an open source platform, offers a simple solution by testing the location of objects relative to one another on a webpage. By using both special syntax and comprehensive rules, one can accurately describe any layout.

With these tools, an innovative framework can integrate both Selenium and Appium while providing screenshot-driven reports for each validation in HTML format.

Automation Framework for Responsive Web Design

(5) Conclusion

The airline industry has long struggled with profit margins. However, the current market attitude, coupled with evolving technology and customer preferences, may offer a real opportunity for growth and development. Yet this growth can only occur if the industry adopts the measures described above. Strong, quality, independent testing within the travel and hospitality sector calls for deep expertise in testing applications across critical functions. These include passenger services, fighter operations, e-commerce, maintenance, airport operations, and revenue management. These testing solutions must be equipped with checklists, testlets, frameworks, processes, methodologies, and best practices in order to ensure both effective and efficient validations.

Quality assurance needs to cover functionality, lifecycle automation, usability, security, compliance checks, and non-functional aspects such as performance and reliability, all while reducing time to market. This can help forge better relationships with customers, cut costs, and improve overall financial performance. Airline carriers have choice to do this through in-house IT or by leveraging suitable technology partners.


Main Author: Renu Rajani, Vice president, Capgemini Technology Services I P Ltd, renu.rajani@capgemini.com

Contributing Author: Rajesh Thakkar, Solutioning Consultant, Capgemini Technology Services I P Ltd, rajesh.thakkar@capgemini.com

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