As an industrial designer, I’m inclined towards a product-based solution … but that’s the great thing about collaboration. I’m open to having my process change and respond to the ideas of other team members, and any individuals who want to add to the travel project.
What if it was simply a new product?
- A better armrest that splits in the middle, allowing both users to use it without giving up space or comfort.
- A chair that comfortably reclines without interfering with the passenger behind you. A seat that gently supports your lumbar. A footrest that extends without dramatically increasing the horizontal footprint of your personal comfort pod.
- A sound system that cancels the noise around the cabin but allows you to speak to your immediate companion.
- In-flight entertainment that allows you any content (including Internet) at your command.
- On demand refreshments.
- A short list of questions that allows the airlines to select your perfect travel companion and cabin placement according to your personal needs.
Think about the resetting of expectations — we obviously live in a culture of entitlement. Can we simply say, “Suck it up, buttercup,” or is there a better solution? How are each of us as individuals responsible for our condition? Is it simply a matter of being polite? Is it being happier with what me have? We want to empower both passengers and the airlines to take back some of the responsibility on the airways.
Wow, the timeline is pretty short …
Last night, our project team came together to discuss our findings of the last 36 hours. What was supposed to be an hour-long reveal became hours of in-depth discussion.
We’ve all heard about passengers feeling anxiety, a loss of power, and a loss of dignity.
On the other side, airline staff only have access to specific information. They are constrained by security, safety, and organizational factors. When they want to help, they often don’t have the ability.
Both passengers and staff become frustrated, creating a negative feedback loop for all.
To create a user-centered airline experience, we realized that we need to address both sides of this equation. The concept that surfaced:
A sense of control.
From this, discussions turned to shared destinations, transparency, purpose, and agency.
Now, our challenge now is to distill specific actions that can help everyone regain a sense of control.
Typically, when buying a ticket, we fight for an emergency row or a aisle seat near the front.
But what if I told you that your airline of choice could magically seat you next to someone who might be in a position to push your big idea to the next level? What I’m talking about is the magic of profiling, social networking, and algorithms.
The idea is quite simple. When setting up your frequent flier account, we are given the option to add a private (or public) profile which tells a bit about who we are. Then, when choosing a seat on our next flight, the airline can now offer you the additional option of allowing their algorithm to select other passengers on that same flight who you may want to sit next to onboard your flight. At no point would your information be revealed to others.