Why Travel Sites Have “Loading…” Screens

By Deane Barker on August 20, 2013

This little tidbit comes to us from a Quora question entitled (What’s something that is common knowledge at your work place, but will be mind blowing to the rest of us?.   I didn’t know this, even though I sort of work in the UX industry.

The loading screens you see primarily on travel websites are artificial. Finding the cheapest flights, the best hotels, and whatever else you may be looking for takes less than a second. In fact, a lot of hard work goes into making all that information very easily accessible for the web app.

The loading screen exists because when the information is returned to the user as quickly as possible, he or she will often perceive it to be less valuable. It’s as if the server didn’t put much effort into really finding a great deal. No customer ever actually articulates that; but surveys, customer testing sessions, and most importantly conversion rates support the notion that when a seven or eight second loading screen tells the user that the numbers are being crunched just for this one query, the result is perceived to be more valuable.



  1. I’ve heard this before, but ran it by someone who works on travel software and he was skeptical. He said the number of flight options between points A and B are often huge. And the software is old. Now that Google brings flight options up instantly, why wouldn’t everyone – if they could?

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