Wishing for an “official time” on the Southwest website


I haven’t used eBay in years, but I always admired one simple feature they provided on their website. Since most auctions end at a specific time, and so much bidding happens in the last few minutes or even seconds, eBay had a link to view their “official time”. By using that data, there was no confusion over exactly how much time was left to bid.

Other sites could really use this feature. For instance, when you’re flying on Southwest, your boarding order depends on how quickly you check in the day before. Sounds simple enough: if the flight leaves at 3 pm, then you just visit the website at 3 pm the previous day. But there’s a problem: how do you know that 3 pm on your watch matches up with 3 pm on Southwest’s official clock? And what about time zone differences?

Solving this problem would be quite straightforward. On the check-in page of their website, Southwest could add a little map of the United States, with a live clock shown in each time zone. Then, the text would say something like “Here’s our official time for each time zone. Just locate where your flight leaves from, and you’ll see if you can check in yet.” Aside from making things easier for customers, this information would also eliminate a lot of unnecessary page reloads — thus saving Southwest on bandwidth costs as well.