Redesigning the Airline check in experience

Just a fun exercise I did since there are so many boarding passes floating around.


Considering this is a fairly broad question, lets define the scope by answering a few questions:

1. Who are the users?

Anyone between the ages of 18–70 who travels by flight without any assistance is a user.

2. Which airline is this? Are they based in an English- speaking region? How big are the planes? Do they fly only domestic or international?

Let us assume that this is a check in experience for “Flamingo Airlines”. This is a domestic airline which operates within the United States. Thus it’s primary language of communication is English. The planes are mid-sized and can hold approximately 100 passengers. It has a single entrance and boards people by zones. It holds Business and Economy classes.

3. Lastly this is a mobile boarding pass for an iOS device.


Based on data found in IATA, the biggest pain-points faced by travellers are:

1. Miserable airport check in process.

2. Sticky stubborn luggage tags.

3. Boarding passes with too much information.

4. Having to remove personal items during security.

5. Not being able to track baggage.

6. Physical baggage claim tags.


CURRENT USER JOURNEY — With check-in baggage

What are the steps followed by a user during a check in process? Analysing this will help break down the problems further.

CURRENT USER JOURNEY — Without check-in baggage

What are the steps followed by a user during a check in process? Analysing this will help break down the problems further.


The following information must be accommodated in the boarding pass:

1. Passenger Name.

2. Flight number.

3. Source and destination airports.

4. Date and time of departure and arrival.

5. Terminal and gate number in source airport.

6. QR code.

7. Boarding gate, zone and seat number.

Other information that can be explored based on timelines and scope:

1. Option to check in baggage.

2. Baggage claim tag + tracking information.

3. Recommended times for check in, security and boarding.

4. Baggage claim belt information.

5. Locating your seat.


In this iteration, I designed a basic boarding pass with all the primary information. I also explored an option of adding- track your bags and locate your seat information.


On showing this to users, I received the following feedback:

1. Visual weightage needed to be given to certain key information that the user can retrieve in a quick glance.

2. The boarding pass is accessed not only by the traveller but also by the airport officials. Having buttons on this screen can cause accidental actions and thus delays.


In this iteration, I thought of doing a guided navigation through the app to help the user with all the information needed at every step, of his/her travel process. I made sure that the screens only show information that is relevant to the user at any specific stage of the travel. The screens I explored can be divided into:

1. Arriving at source airport: This screen focusses on airport terminal and gate where the user must arrive to catch the flight.

2. Baggage check in: This screen tells the user the exact counter to use for check in. Once that is completed, the screen automatically moves to the next where the bags can be tracked.

3. Security & Boarding: This screen gives you the gate related information and also the walk time associated.

4. Arrival, Baggage tracking: This screen focusses on bag tracking information and baggage claims slip.


The feedback on this exploration was as follows:

1. The process is very structured and very clear. The user is clear about what information to find where.

2. It is slightly different from the standard boarding pass model.

3. The user might be very distracted and may not be able to follow a step-by-step method while dealing with a busy airport scenario.

4. The baggage check in process in a little confusing. Considering there is human / kiosk intervention involved in the check in process, this need not be done through an app.


In this iteration, I considered feedback from the other two iterations and tried to further streamline the process. I introduced a clear navigation page from where the boarding pass, track your baggage and seat locator could easily be accessed.

I tried to give more visual weightage to important information.


This iteration was definitely much easier to use and follow through for the users.

Some important points to note:

1. This design has a very clear navigation.

2. The time and date information has been reduced from previous iterations to just the basic information.

3. The baggage screen is more contextual and has only Baggage belt information. The extra information about boarding gates, seat number etc has been removed.



Some more ideas with increased timelines and extended scope:

1. Recommended times for check in, security and boarding based on airport crowd levels, to avoid delays.

2. An option to have baggage picked up and delivered door-to-door for an extra cost.

3. In-app reminders for timely travel.

4. An option to upload TSA information for seamless security process.