Shannon and I are pretty big fans of Southwest Airlines, given that they usually let us make our monthly wedding-planning visits to south Jersey for under $60 round-trip. On Thursday morning, I logged into the Southwest website to print our boarding passes, and couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t able to select both of our reservations to print until I closed Safari and logged back in using Firefox. It turns out that Southwest’s website pushes different pages to Safari users than it does to Firefox users, and the difference makes no sense to me at all.

On the left is the reservation selection page in Firefox; on the right is the same page in Safari: in firefox in safari

See the difference? In Firefox, not only does the site provide checkboxes for selection (a type of form input that allows the user to make multiple selections at the same time), it provides a link that quickly selects all the checkboxes at the same time. On the other hand, in Safari, the site provides radio buttons for selection (a type of form input that only allows the user to make one selection at a time), and omits the select-all link. Looking at the source code for the pages, the server truly does send different form elements, and I’m at a loss to explain why they do so. The one thing I can say is that it makes it that much more difficult for someone with Safari to use the site, which is just plain annoying.


Enable the Safari debug menu and set the User Agent to Windows MSIE 6.0 or something similar. User Agent spoofing usually gets past the all-too-clever sites that do browser checks and present different pages to different browsers. Of course it won’t get past true Safari incompatibilities, like windows-dependent sites that depend on ActiveX.

• Posted by: Charles on May 7, 2005, 11:33 PM

Yep, I’m sure that’ll help — and I’ll readily acknowledge that there are valid reasons for sites to give different versions to different browsers. My point here is that I don’t understand THIS difference — why limit the number of reservations that Safari users can select? Safari doesn’t handle HTML checkboxes differently than any other browser, and the server-side routine (which is launched when you click submit on that form) is clearly capable of generating more than one boarding pass at once (as using it with Firefox demonstrates); why do they limit Safari users?

• Posted by: Jason on May 8, 2005, 8:07 AM

Perhaps they’re serving two separate pages due to rendering issues, made a change to one, but neglected to make the change on the other.

• Posted by: dansays on May 8, 2005, 9:57 PM
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