We began our research with a hunt statement:
We wanted to discover ways to re-imagine the experience of long layovers (4+ hours) at JFK International Airport to make them more predictable and enjoyable for travelers while considering the financial impact on airlines.
Our results yielded a set of key principles that would inform our designs moving forward.
- Passengers have low expectations – As a result of so many bad experiences, they expect the worst when traveling. Nothing surprises them.
- Passengers felt powerless – They were frustrated, helpless, uninformed, and resigned to the situation.
- Front line staff are not able to help – They either lack the right information or the power to do something about it.
We also knew from our secondary research that almost 40% of passenger journeys include a layover, with about 30-40% of flights experiencing a delay or cancelation. We saw a clear connection between these numbers and the potential for the type of delayed or missed flight stories we heard in our users’ reports.
We wrote a few guidelines for service innovation in the airport space:
- Any service improvement must be very sensitive to costs.
- PA NY/NJ and managing airlines, such as American and Delta at JFK, have the most investment, and have the most to gain. They are the right organizations to target.
- Ideally, a service solution would reduce the number of unplanned layovers by giving more information to passengers at the critical moments during their journeys.
We believed there was a significant opportunity to create service envy in the airline industry. Little changes can go a long way in an industry where passengers’ expectations are so low. There’s plenty of space for airlines to better anticipate the needs of their travelers. By improving the flow and access to information, airlines can help to streamline the travel process for their customers.
Design & Deliverables
Our early design concepts focused on the traveler’s need for comfort and timely information. Below are a few of our concept sketches including a MMG game for airline passengers, a proposed system for incentives for travelers to report positive behavior instead of negative feedback, and our chosen concept for redesigning the flight transfer journey.
We imagined a holistic travel experience where a customer receives timely information for the duration of his trip. This begins with a more informative booking experience that flags any risky planned layovers. The traveler will also receive notifications and updates throughout his journey that help him to stay abreast of important information.
The core of the Passport experience is the kiosks we proposed to be installed throughout the airport. When entering and exiting a flight a traveler can quickly find personalized navigational information by scanning his ticket at the kiosk.
We created a user journey that illustrates the entire service experience. We used whiteboard backdrops, and Photoshop mock-ups on an iPad and iMac to help viewers imagine the experience we designed. View the journey.