Rethinking the Airline Boarding Pass

The problem with airline boarding passes, is that they are not very well designed to efficiently provide passengers with the information they need. The following scenario plays out pretty consistently each time I fly:

I check in and receive my boarding pass or passes. I check the gate, flight number and time or departure. After the time spent queuing and making my way through security, I've forgotten my gate number and flight number so I check my boarding pass again. It's not something I commit to memory as I know it's there on the bit of paper sticking awkwardly out of my passport. I find roughly where I need to be, then tend to get some food. After that I check my information again for confirmation, knowing that I haven't committed it to memory. At the gate, the staff check that I'm on the correct flight and guide me to my seat.

Each time that I check the pass, I have to hunt down the relevant information. The flight time, flight number, gate, seat number and seat number are all hidden amongst a sea of other similar sized and styled text and other information un-necessary for the passenger. To make it worse, there is no consistent placement of the information between airlines. That's maybe OK for the airline staff, but confusing for tired frequent travellers.

Pete Smart has made a great attempt to make the useful information on these passes much more human and more readily available. Essentially, what he suggests is a very clear and well ordered presentation of all the essential information. It's a great idea that it's could be consistent across all airlines while still retaining the individual character and brand of each. He gets extra points by making it all compatible with current boarding pass equipment and materials.

Check out his design ideas here:


There are some other interesting attempts on this blog, although I don't think they succeed quite as well as Mr Smart's ideas.

I really like Pete's suggestion that "Innovation starts when you ask simple questions". Rather than looking at something I find unsatisfactory and complaining about its failures, I'm going to try to put more effort in and ask myself "How could this experience be better?"

Henry BourneComment