I admit I have to decipher code every time I travel. And I’m a puzzle-lover! But not when I’m juggling with tying a security tag on my carry-on while taking out my laptop on to the conveyor belt. I fail to understand lack of standardization in one of the most frequently used systems we have globally – the boarding pass.
Let’s start by looking at one. (Disclaimer: I am not targeting this particular airline in my example; my emotions are same with every airline I’ve flown.)
Most airlines do a good job emphasizing on various key elements – seat number, gate number, time of boarding – using some highlight. Say, a larger font and a bold flavor. What they have regularly missed is the flow of information. If you visualize a real-world flow of a passenger, you would understand that there are bits of information that he needs to see the most, based on which stage of his boarding he is in.
Web check-in, road trip to the airport, entry inside the airport, baggage check-in, security check-in, waiting area, and finally to boarding the plane to being seated.
Several of you might resonate my thoughts about “scanning” through the entire boarding pass (yes it’s just one page, but still) to find one crucial information during their various stages of travel.
First and foremost, if I were redesigning a boarding pass, I would go with a vertical layout. I have a theory (borrowed from single-column vertical form layouts), that it would provide an easy and readable flow of information to the traveller. Even his thumb can aid him through a single or at most 2 pieces of information in a neat stack of data.
Here’s a visualization of the concept, before I dissect every section of the boarding pass.
We’ve got the branding, class of travel, departure and destinations, flight number and the passenger name. Okay, I just realized that perhaps PNR should also figure here – will evolve this further.
What follows is departure airport and terminal, departure time, date, boarding time and gate – very useful after entering the airport. I thought of another usable element that travellers would love to have (based on a survey I did with 50 business and casual travellers). The information about airport facilities that’s available to them, if they have time on their hands. A neat little array of icons wouldn’t take long for someone to identify with the services they might find worthwhile – bar, shower, Wi-fi, bookstore, shopping, ATM, etc.
Now, while at the gate – about to board, the following information is what’s next. Priority boarding level, barcode for the gate personnel to scan, and in-flight seat details. Here too, I have gathered that people rarely remember what A, B, C, D stands for – left, right, center. Moreover whether it’s window, aisle or middle. So, why not switch the number and the letter. Instead of 27D, what if we have it as D27? Numbers are easy for people. While walking to their numbered row, the passenger can easily figure out whether ‘D’ is left, right, center, window, aisle, or middle. Why? Because he reads ‘D’ first in his mind. Perhaps there is another technical reason for this order, but if there isn’t, it’s certainly worth experimenting.
Also, it might be useful for people to know how far is the nearest Exit row; some travellers are very obsessed about this information.
Finally, the stub that is torn off – redesigned for a better quick glance for the personnel doing the needful.
So, here we are. A redesigned vertically aligned boarding pass!
Ending the feature with another disclaimer – The only reason I chose Singapore Airlines in the concept redesigned, is that it was my first flight ever, and I admire them.