Southwest Airlines Manipulating Ratings in the Apple App Store?

Southwest Airlines got as many reviews for its app in one month as in the previous 8 years, and they were nearly all 5 stars, “the numbers, frankly, look too good to be true.” This all began with the latest update to the app on January 17.

Southwest has the number 6 iphone travel app in the Apple app store.

Before the explosion in ratings reviews of the app were similar to others with around a 3.5 average score. Now it’s 4.5.

Is there a plausible explanation other than Russian hackers ratings coming out of server farms in Pakistan?

Maybe the new version was actually much better than every other app, ever? Maybe SW passengers were so dazzled by the experience that, wide-eyed and buzzing from the afterglow, the said to themselves, “By gum, I hardly ever rate an app, but I have a couple of minutes before my plane takes off, this time I’m going to go right there and give it as many stars as I’m legally allowed to!”

Or maybe something in the new code is broken. Maybe it’s accidentally dropping in a 5-star rating whenever somebody uses the app to track their arrival time.

(HT: @RyanCharles)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The United app is probably the best out of all the airline apps. AA and DL focus too much on having a pretty product but no functionality and overall not very informative. The UA app looks crappy and is slow and buggy, but at least gives you enormous information like seatmaps, inbound aircraft, upgrade/standby lists, etc. I really hope they don’t overhaul it, it seems like it can only lose functionality if they do anything to it.

  2. I agree Ray, although I don’t find buggy and I don’t really have an issue with their asthetics. The UA app has most of the functionality of their site so it’s easy to look up and book travel plus the real time updating of the upgrade and standby lists as well as the seat map is amazing. The airport maps are pretty sweet too. It seems like DL, AA, and WN are a decade behind in terms of functionality.

  3. Gary – I URGENTLY need your advice and help with an airline related problem. Where can I send you an e-mail? Thanks

  4. It’s important apps are easy to use and I South West Airlines have got it right. The app is super easy, fast and overall user friendly. Also South West being the world’s largest low cost carrier, they’re bound to have many more reviews than rivals.

  5. The new southwest app has an in app rating function that pops up whenever you use it. So they are aggressively seeking ratings. I assume most people just click the 5 stars. Doesn’t take any more
    time than declining the request to rate.

  6. Does the rating really matter? If you are flying SW, you will use the app. Otherwise, you won’t. This isn’t an app like Kayak or Expedia where you have many options to choose from. Even if the app had a 1 star rating, if you were flying SW, wouldn’t you still download it anyway?

  7. Gary, my gosh, for once ask someone who does things like mobile apps before you create a clickbait article.

    First, you are allowed to reset app store reviews so perfectly fine to do that.

    Second, they could have added a “please rate us” option in the app which apple allows you to do within the app which then pushes to the app store.

    Literally nothing to see here other than Southwest managing their app store perception within the bounds all apps play in.

  8. Meanwhile, Delta has withdrawn its app from the iPad and iPod. Instead, it directs you to its website via your browser.

  9. Does the app now ask you to rate it? It’s very common to see a bump in reviews when you start to ask for ratings. Of course, it’s also common to see a bump when you pay for ratings.

    Source: I’m the founder of Cuddli, a dating app for geeks. We don’t pay for ratings, and we also don’t nag our users to rate our app.

    P.S.: Check out the Alaska Airlines app, I think it’s really very good.

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