Getting Airline Boarding Off the Ground: Defining Goals, Processes, and Identities

Planes parked at the gate and departing San Diego's Charles Lindbergh Field

While much of the world has been taking something of a break this past week, #LetsFixBoarding has been working hard to get off the ground to make airline boarding better for all.

About the Team

During our kickoff call last week, I mentioned that we’d be sending out an additional survey to find out a bit more about the team and help group us together into smaller, more geographically-oriented teams.  As the survey results have begun to come in, we’ve learned a bit more about where our team is from.  With about half of the team responding so far, we’ve been able to confirm participants from all around the world.

Countries with participants in the #LetsFixBoarding movement.
Countries with participants in the #LetsFixBoarding movement.

So far, we have participants from the United States, Canada, Brazil, Spain, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Turkey, India, and Australia.

Inside the United States, we’re as distributed as it’s possible to be across the country.

US Map of #LFB participants.
#LetsFixBoarding volunteers are also scattered across the United States.

With participants in California, Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Ohio, every time zone across the continental US is represented.

The Process

With such a distributed team, it’s important that we follow a proven process to keep us all on the same page.

Before we can begin any work, we’ll be splitting up our volunteers into three groups, organized geographically, and lead by one or two local leaders.  Right now, it looks like we’ll be organizing into the following geographic regions:

  • The Wild West (US, Canada, and Brazil)
  • The Old World (UK, Denmark, Netherlands, and Turkey)
  • Out East & Down Under (India & Australia)

We will be using a modified, 3-week design sprint method to research, design, and test solutions, leading up to a combined test of all the teams’ work. Each of the three teams will be assigned a specific problem to address, either:

  • Carry-on Luggage and Overhead Bins
  • Priority Boarding
  • Orders of Seat and Row Boarding

Each team will be provided with a Problem Brief that will give an overview of the problem as a whole, identify potential areas for research, ask for designs to address specific questions, and have a stated business goal to guide overall direction.

Our group leaders will be tasked with organizing the research, design, and testing efforts of our group within the confines of the sprints, using methods and personnel that are most reasonable to their judgement.

While group leaders have not yet been assigned, we do know that our overall process will look something like this:

Week 1 – Research the Problem

  • Review Problem Brief with team.
  • Brainstorm ideas for research answers to stated questions.
  • Execute research ideas.

Week 2 – Review Research; Conduct Design

  • Review results of research with the team.
  • Develop approach to designing improved solutions.
  • Design new solutions.

Week 3 – Review Designs; Test

  • Review designs with team.
  • Choose one design to use moving forward.
  • Iterate and implement quick changes to design, when necessary.
  • Test design using appropriate testing method.

Design Day Prep (Conducted After Week 3)

Leaders will meet with other team leaders to discuss your research, design, and testing results and discuss how to integrate their findings into an overall improved process.

Design Day

On behalf of your group, our leaders will:

  • Present a summary of your research.
  • Discuss your design process and chosen solution.
  • Review your testing methods and results.

Testing the End Result

Our designs are only as good as they’re proven to be in the real world.  This means that we’ll eventually have to test them.  While this will likely mean some sort of full-scale boarding simulation, how exactly that will be done is yet to be decided.

Rest assured, though, we *will* have results to test and publish.

Your Thoughts?

What are your thoughts on our process and approach?  Leave a comment below or send an email to