Fly Safe

Fly Safe is a system design that manages passenger expectations and promotes public health during pandemic air travel. The objective was to develop adaptable solutions for the air travel industry during COVID-19 and future infectious disease outbreaks. The design increases interoperability and communication between travellers and relevant organizations through the use of digital and physical touchpoints.

Duration: 8 months (completed April 2021)

Methods: Interviews, Market Research, Design Ideation, User Flows, Wireframes, Prototyping, Information Architecture, Conceptual Maps, Brand Identity

Role: Team Research, Individual Design Direction

Partners: Carleton University and National Research Council Centre for Air Travel Research (NCR CATR)



COVID-19 has drastically impacted the air travel industry and a multitude of stakeholders. With heightened concerns around safety and ongoing challenges, there is a need to design resilient solutions that will help restore both confidence and demand.

$370 billion

in global industry losses

60% fall

in passenger demand


Secondary Research 

Our team created a collaborative research board to understand the current state of the industry. A summary of our research follows:

Industry Volatility: Characterized by high volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, there is a need to adopt greater flexibility and adaptability in response to global events.

Low Passenger Confidence: Lack of trust in the safety and certainty of flying remains one of the greatest barriers to reviving passenger demand.

Push for Technology: More airlines and airports are directing passengers to digital and mobile applications to communicate information and increase touchless interactions.

Team Collaborative Research Board.png

Field Research 

2 reflective journals, 8 interviews, and 32 online survey responses from people who have flown during COVID-19 were used to deepen our understanding of passenger experiences, including pain points, perceptions, and behaviours,

Key Insights

Communication challenges: Changing travel restrictions have placed a new cognitive load on passengers. Gaps in communication and a lack of transparency about the flight experience have also added more confusion to the situation.

Negative Perceptions: Stressful, troublesome, and scary were the most common words used to describe the pandemic travel experience. Travellers did not feel like their safety was a priority to airlines.

Low Willingness to Fly: Willingness to fly is at an all-time low due to a combination of communication challenges, negative perceptions, and individual levels of comfort and risk tolerance.

Only 1 of 8 interviewees said they would be comfortable flying again during COVID-19.

Design Opportunities

Primary and secondary research revealed an opportunity to restore travel demand by improving perceptions around air travel during COVID-19, particularly for people who experience higher anxiety and lower risk tolerance. The goals were defined as:

Reduce stress and perceived threat of COVID-19 during travel

Increase industry trust

Reduce emotional and cognitive loads

Improve levels of comfort

Concept Development

I used sticky notes to create scenarios and accompanied these with sketches to explore idea across the travel journey. The ideas were guided by physical, social, cognitive, and emotional human factors and ergonomics, and focused primarily on the in-flight experience where concerns of spreading the virus were highest.

Concept Direction

After consulting with industry collaborators, I chose to develop a concept that sought to improve travel communication and in-flight services because of the concept's feasibly, adaptiveness, and value given the urgent need to manage expectations during pandemic travel.

The mobile app allows passengers to view aircraft cleaning progress, customize their complimentary in-flight health kit, and choose to eat at a different time from adjacent seats during long-haul flights.

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New Doc 2020-12-09 17.08.44_5.jpg
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Testing and Evaluation

Scenario Interviews and Task Analysis

Interviews with pandemic travellers and non-travellers revealed there has been little communication about airline passenger health kits. When run through visual scenarios, 6 of 9 interviewees found having the kit placed at their seat was most convenient. 

Based on interview feedback I created and tested three kit prototypes in a simulated boarding scenario. By observing and following up with questions, I learned that the main goal upon receiving the kit is to understand what it contains and use it to clean the seat. The sanitizing wipe was consistently the first item to be searched for, and non-cleaning supplies slowed down this process.

Usability Testing

I tested a low-fidelity prototype to evaluate the value of certain functions and information. I learned that accessing COVID-19 regulations was the most valuable function to people, and that meal staggering was highly accepted to improve comfort, but was not easily understood through the interface design.


Mobile App

While redesigning the app, I conducted a card sort to better understand of how people actually categorize information. The analysis led to the creation of a new page designated to information on health kits and best practices for the in-flight experience. I then moved onto refining the visual interface with branding that conveys safety, trust, and cleanliness.

Passenger App

  • card sorting

  • information architecture

  • interfaces

Flight status.png
Health tips.png
3.1.1 Care kits.png

Kit Detailing

The size of the kit was minimized to make it more easier to hold and store, while reducing cost and waste. A final template was made after testing sizing and graphical layout.

System Development

  • brief description of what it is

  • info arch

  • key frames

Backend App

  • brief description of what it is

  • info arch

  • key frames

Backend App

  • brief description of what it is

  • info arch

  • key frames

Final Design


concept value


Kit design

Meal staggering

service map


3.2.1 Eating on board.png
1.1 Flight Status.png
5.0 Contact Tracing.png
4.0 Documents.png
2.0 COVID Info.png
3.0 Health Tips.png

Prototyping and Testing

We designed a clickable prototype and tested our design with fellow classmates. This stage revealed problems in the usage of some of our iconography and titles, and helped improve user flows by showing how participants actually go about completing each task.

Increase transparency of information

Communicate health

as a priority

Improve levels of comfort

Easy pull tab to unwind cuff

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