bad user interface of the week

This past week, I’ve been making travel arrangements for my wife and I to visit some friends in Tennessee for Thanksgiving.  I cashed in some United Mileage Plus miles in exchange for the plane tickets.  And after submitting my order, here’s the web page they presented me with.  See if you can tell from this whether or not the transaction was successful.

The page starts off with “Reservation complete.”   Great, it worked!

But then it says “We are unable to process your reservation at this time.”  Oh, crap, I guess it didn’t work after all.  Either that or they use the word “complete” to mean “we failed and gave up.”

However, the next section says, “Your reservation is currently being processed.”  Hurray!  I think.  Now I’m really confused.  Hmm.  Did the reservation succeed?  Did it fail?  Is it still processing?  I just don’t know.

And then, as if telling me three different conflicting bits of status information wasn’t enough, there’s the red text.  Red usually means bad, right?  The error messages are written in red text near the top of the page.  But then the flight details for the return trip (from ATL to DEN) are also written in red text, instead of black.  Does this mean there’s a problem with the return flight?  Why is the leg from DEN to ATL in black and leg from ATL to DEN in red?  Are they trying to tell me something or is it just a bug in the software that generates the page?

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