Delta Airlines

Making Delta the airline of choice for animal lovers and their pets.

Challenge

Build a unique travel experience for passengers traveling with pets that prioritizes trust through transparency and a streamlined booking process.

Outcome

A comprehensive Pet Travel Guide, enhanced booking process, and in-flight service design that positions Delta as the go-to airline for passengers flying with their pets.

Scope
Directed Storytelling
Interactive Prototypes
Usability Study
Findings Report
Visual Design
Tools
Sketch
Axure
Photoshop

Facts

Each year, over 2 million pet owners in the United States purchase airline tickets for their animals. That number continues to grow along with the number of American families who have a pet (currently 85 million households). Unfortunately, the experience is notoriously a negative one no matter what airline a traveler flies with.

With its far-reaching domestic and international network, Delta has the potential to become the go-to airline for anyone traveling with their pet.

Research

Traveling with a pet is a highly emotional process with multiple steps that start long before a passenger purchases a ticket or boards their flight. Five frequent fliers who’d flown with their pets participated in my directed storytelling sessions, which revealed overwhelming similarities no matter what airline the passenger flew with.

Themes identified included:
– Overwhelm and frustration throughout the entire process
– Needing to do outside research to feel comfortable booking and flying
– Anxiety after purchasing the flight leading up to the travel day

The Data

After synthesizing the data from the directed storytelling sessions, I identified three areas where Delta could not only improve the booking and flying experience for its own passengers flying with pets but also surpass the experience provided by other airline.

Areas that need improvement:
– Information gathering leading up to booking the flight
– Booking the flight
– Travel day (airport and security, onboard)

Process

Each area would require in-depth examination in order to solve, so I broke the design process into three different phases:

Phase 1
Create an online booking experience for users.
This eliminates the requirement that users call a ticket agents after purchasing their own ticket to book their pet’s ticket and reserves a spot for them that is guaranteed on travel day.

Phase 2
Develop a Pet Travel Guide that is a comprehensive resource for passengers in the information gathering stage.
Because they won’t need to rely on secondhand information about flying with a pet, the guide will help users feel confident in their preparation for travel day.

Phase 3
Enhance the service design of Delta’s travel day experience.
From arriving at the airport and going through security, to the flight itself—including first of its kind protocols and monitoring for pets flying in cargo—the  travel day service design will be the first of its kind in the airline industry.

Sketches + Wireframes

The first two phases shared some overlap in interactivity, so I began designing by making a user flow to get a better understanding of what was needed. I began designing by making sketches before moving into digitized wireframes and mockups.

Visual Design

Delta’s original pet travel info page made users feel alienated and distrustful of whether Delta genuinely cared about the well-being of their pet during the flight. The page lacked photos and was a jumble of text written in a cold and anonymous voice.

I saw an opportunity to communicate Delta’s commitment to transporting pets safely and comfortably through changes to the visual design and copywriting that emphasized photographs of people with their pets and a voice that was friendly and conversational.

Usability Testing

Three pet owners who had never flown with their pet before participated in testing the prototype. Tasks included booking a flight with their pet and figuring out whether their pet could fly in the cabin or in cargo.

Testing revealed that the new visual design elements made a positive difference in the emotional responses to Delta as an airline who cares about animals and can be trusted with their well-being.

It also became clear that further research and design would need to be done on the Pet Travel Guide to help new users navigate the dense amount of information needed by each owner when traveling with their pet.

Conclusion

With a number of relatively minor changes to Delta’s online booking process and web site, Delta has the opportunity to position itself far ahead of other airlines as the airline of choice for travelers flying with their pets. These changes paired with enhanced service design of the flying experience on travel day would have the potential to increase ticket sales in the future.

#9 Next Steps

1. Based on data gathered during usability testing, passengers new to flying with their pet would would feel more confident complying with pet regulations if the travel guide were interactive. A second iteration of the guide will include this as an option as well as a redesigned page menu.

2. Phase 3 will require its own separate research and usability testing. I would recommend breaking this phase into two groups that focus separately on passengers flying with carry-on pets and cargo pets.

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