This was a self-initiated project that sprung out from my passion for travel. With the experience of traveling to more than 20 countries, I noticed lack of attention given to the user experience with the flight boarding pass and hence took up this assignment.
Discipline: Interaction, UX Design
Timeline: 2 weeks | January 2017
Technology: Adobe Photoshop / Illustrator, iPad Sketches, Google Sheets
- Peaceful travel cannot be achieved without good visuals, easy reading, and right typography. While various airlines strive to offer the best service from ground to flight, no one actually pays attention to the very important boarding pass.
- Dependency on reading glasses and senior passengers might not be able to digest the boarding pass all by their own.
Context / Storyboard
A simple slip in reading can create blunders like the ones at the Miss Universe 2015 beauty pageant and the Feb 2017 Academy (Oscar) Awards.
How can I make the Boarding Pass truly global and absorbed by all kinds of travelers very easily, for most circumstances?
I first came up with a concept prototype to steer my research and then establish my understanding or remove assumptions. I use concept prototypes to start off the creative process to get me going. I built this prototype with:
- My own experience of international travel to more than 20 countries.
- Understanding what was important for me in my boarding pass for my travel experience
- I took five sample boarding passes from a Google image search.
- These samples along with the concept prototype were printed in black and white, shuffled and placed before each participant one by one.
- Feedback was taken from 30 such participants.
- Each was asked to identify the Flight number, Gate number, Seat Number, and Boarding time in any order that was convenient and fastest to them.
- The time taken to identify all the four pieces of information was noted down.
Participant ages were from 20-30 years (50%), 30-40 years (25%) and 50-60 years(25%). Approximately 2/3rd of the participants were regular users of domestic flights in India, and are aware of boarding passes. 1/3rd have never traveled in flights at all.
- Group into blocks the most important data vs most obvious data
- Could the international airline industry standardized passes like the Passport?
- Could airline-specific info be at the bottom, like sequence or privilege numbers?
- While samples 1 and 4 above come with fancy fonts and colors, in practice, boarding pass information does not print in color and fonts are in plain text. Hence, a constraint.
- Run user examination to identify what do they think is important vs obvious data on the pass.
- Run font sampling as to how fast they would read and understand it.
- Airline staff point of view is unimportant.
- To address the problem of making it ‘truly global’ an elaborate user survey and user behavior observation must be carried out with users from across the world.
The above exercise has been conducted from the point of view of the passenger, and not other indirect travel participants like the airline ground staff. Images borrowed from Google search/stock photos for the problem, precedents and samples.
Dec 28th, 2017
I flew back home for the winter break after my first semester and among all my many travels so far, I noticed the cleanest, most visually pleasing, usable and clear printed boarding passes I have ever seen or used. Please compare the below boarding passes with the prototype above – it’s very clear of how they have picked out the most important information that is necessary to board and separated that from the other clutter. Also, comparing the Etihad tickets to American Airlines – a domestic flight I took from New York to Texas this November, the ticket from the latter was a usability disaster.