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. View the process booklet here.
Duration: 8 months (completed April 2021)
Methods: Primary and Secondary research, User Flows, Wireframes, Prototyping, Information Architecture, Conceptual Maps
Role: Team Research, Individual Design Direction
Partners: Carleton University and National Research Council Centre for Air Travel Research (NRC CATR)
Awards: ACIDO Rocket 2021 User Experience Award (Sponsored by Cortex Design)
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.
in global industry losses
in passenger demand
Our team synthesized our findings on a collaborative research board. Background and market research were conducted to understand the current state and responses to the situation. To deepen our understanding of passenger experiences, we carried out 2 reflective journals, 8 interviews, and online survey with 32 responses from people who have flown during COVID-19.
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 would be comfortable flying again during COVID-19.
I identified 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
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.
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.
Testing and Evaluation
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 said placing the kit in 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 was 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.
I tested a low-fidelity prototype to evaluate the value of certain functions and information. I learned that accessing COVID-19 regulations was most valuable to people, and that meal staggering was highly accepted to improve comfort, but was not easily understood through the interface design.
While redesigning the app, I conducted a card sort to better understand of how people actually categorize information. I then moved onto detailing the information architecture and refining the visual interface with branding that conveys trust and cleanliness.
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.
I created a map showcasing how different touchpoints interact to provide a seamless passenger experience. I also consulted industry collaborators to discuss how stakeholders could support these interactions. The outcome was an independent app with interoperable functions, allowing for information to be updated directly by airlines and global air bodies. This streamlines communication between parties within the industry as well as with passengers.
In the final phase of this project, I developed a back-end app for aircraft cleaners to track cleaning tasks and communicate progress with travellers. I also created a service blueprint for in-flight meal staggering.
Clean, update cleaning checklist, send status updates
Stay updated, manage expectations, know when to board
Fly Safe integrates a mobile application, redesigned passenger care kit, and in-flight services to help restore confidence around travelling during COVID-19.
Working at different points along the journey, Fly Safe prepares people for pandemic air travel and guides passengers through infection prevention and control (IPAC).
The interoperable app partners with airlines and global air bodies to provide people with information on travel regulations, flight updates, and in-flight health tips all in one user interface.
General flight details
Status with real-time cleaning updates
Seat map showing flight capacity and closed seating
National travel regulations related to booked flights; COVID-19 testing, quarantine, entry restrictions and requirements.
Airport information: COVID-19 testing, retail and service changes, health procedures.
Airline information: policies, health procedures.
Care Kits: what's in the kit, where to expect it, and how to use it most effectively.
Eating on Board: information on new meal staggering procedures.
Cabin Cleanliness: air quality, tips for limiting primary and secondary transmission of COVID-19.
Mask Protocols: guidelines for proper mask wear.
Access COVID-19 test results
Import health certificates or proof of vaccination
Submit digital contact tracing forms
Email notification about positive cases post-flight
The redesigned health kit can be adopted and co-branded by airlines. It provides passengers with extra health supplies to feel safer during their flight. People can learn about their kit through the Fly Safe app prior to boarding. When presented consistently, the kit helps communicate value around passenger health and promote IPAC behaviours.
Meal staggering is a service adaptation which aims to increase comfort around eating on board while mitigating the transmission of COVID-19. Seating is used to group people into two different eating times to prevent adjacent passengers from removing their masks at the same time.
Information on the app, combined with in-flight messages and aircrew help guide passengers through this new service.
Restoring passenger confidence will be key to improving travel demand. Fly safe aims to do so by considering different dimensions of passenger comfort, prioritizing health, and surfacing information to reduce cognitive loads. While the air travel industry may not be able to predict global situations, it can leverage designs that help manage perceptions and maintain trust during uncertain times.
Reduce the perceived threat of COVID-19 by preparing people with the knowledge and materials to protect themselves.
Reduce emotional and cognitive loads by streamlining communication and managing expectations.
Increase industry trust by emphasizing transparency and value for passenger health.
Improve levels of comfort around in-flight experiences through meal staggering and improved health kits.