Should airlines redesign your boarding pass to look like this?

By David Flynn, December 30 2013

Almost everything has changed for the better in the world of travel – perhaps it’s time for boarding passes to do likewise?

A US designer has taken a fresh look at the standard boarding pass, putting the relatively modern concept of usability at the forefront, and here’s the result.

"(Boarding passes) were originally built for computers, by computers" says Adam Glynn-Finnegan, a designer for the popular Evernote app who nutted out this next-gen boarding pass in his spare time.

"During my research, it was apparent that a designer has rarely, if ever, been involved in the creation of boarding passes."

“Better layout of information leads to less stressed out passengers” Glynn-Finnegan reasons.

Rather than the seemingly random jumble of information on today’s boarding pass, Glynn-Finnegan suggests the data be laid out in order of when you need it, grouping information associated to each part of the boarding process.

"I never understood why boarding passes are not laid out chronologically,” says Glynn-Finnegan. "It seems obvious. You are on a journey with a clear beginning and a clear ending."

"I wanted to solve not only the aesthetics of the boarding pass, but the layout of information in order of importance and also chronological.”

“What time do I fly? What gate do I leave from? Which boarding group am I in? I wanted my design to answer these in the order you would ask them.”

Ideally, the boarding pass would guide travelers through their entire journey.

The revamped boarding pass also stacks data according to who needs to be using the boarding pass – such as the airport’s customs officers, the airline and the traveller – as well as what stage of the journey the pass is used.

Glynn-Finnegan also proposes a new style of communicating the seat location to travellers.

Icons show the approximate location of the seat in the aircraft as well as if it’s an aisle, middle or window seat.

“I think airlines can do better at helping passengers find their seat. It is in their interest to get everyone seated quickly, but how many people stop in the middle of the aisle and stare into the row hoping for some sort of enlightenment moment to help them find their seat?”

“Using a mix of icons and numbers, these issues can be broken into three easy-to-follow steps” he suggests:
1. Seat number? (what to look for)
2. Seat location (front or rear of plane)
3. Seat type (aisle, middle or window)

What’s your take on the redesigned boarding pass? What would you add, or take away, to make the boarding pass work better for travellers?

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 216

As Qantas has proven to be the IT stuff up company with removal of services and a really awful site update that had to be reparied, lets just hope they don't attempt these changes, probably not, be way out of their league.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

It doesn't look that different to an existing boarding pass, and it's still not that great.

Firstly, why all the duplicated information? The passenger name and flight number are printed up the top and then again on the main sheet (plus a third time on the stub, but that's acceptable). 

"Departure airport" doesn't need to be in big letters, you already know which airport you're leaving from. The scenario where that's useful is when you have multiple boarding passes for multiple sectors, but the "SFO->SYD" bit is the bit that should be in big letters. 

Finally, some of the labels are bad. Apparently the designer thinks "Where's My Seat?" is somehow friendlier than plain old "Seat Number", but it isn't, it's just more characters. It also clashes with the "Your flight" bit, because now my boarding pass is referring to me in both the first and second person.

And what's with the reversal of numbers and letters in the seat number? It makes no sense because first you find your row, then you find your seat within that row. Besides, "A22" at a glance sounds like a gate number, since many airports arrange gates in this way.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

I agree that the top bit doesn't need the duplicated information. The top bar should be an all-red stripe with the airline's branding. I also cannot fathom why the flight number on the stub is in the red stripe, as printing over the stripe will be a messy problem.

For the airport staff, the name could be a little bolder. The date doesn't need to have the full month name; it's for staff, so 05 Jan 2013 is fine.

The passenger information (pre-boarding) strip is good, I think. The post-boarding strip is alright, although I agree that 'Flight Number' and 'Seat Number' are perfectly fine.

It's a nicer view, but it's not really revolutionary over what I can print out when I OLCI.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Oct 2012

Total posts 150

A paper version of the passbook boarding pass would be fine for me. Except maybe add a gate (Virgin Australia!)

Etihad

23 Jan 2013

Total posts 175

Looks virtually the same as tickets do now. 

I don't find my airline ticket to be confusing at all. This is clearly designed for the section of our society who end up on those airline shows, yelling at a poor check in clerk. 

What might be a better option (for these people) is for them to be able to swipe the ticket stub under a barcode / screen scanner at locations after security to find this basic information (if needed). 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 737

+1. It's a bit "My First Boarding Pass"... and you should be checking your gate number on the screens, not the BP. 

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 531

Exactly... gates change... and in some airports (like HKG) quite often.

21 Sep 2012

Total posts 51

Yes I got caught out badly when flying from AKL to MEL as there was a last minute gate change and I didn't even think to check the boards (silly I know!) as I made my (long) way to the gate only to have to hike it back into the main depature area to where we were now going to be bussed to the plane.

29 Jun 2011

Total posts 6

It seems the greyed out section of the plane for the seat should grey out the left, right or middle (dual isle) of the plane.

I concur with other comments too.  As already stated definitely do not dupliate information.  That is the easiest way to make thinks hard to find.

And, though a pet hate of mine, - I will also concur that 'seat' number is better than 'my seat' or 'your seat'.

I haven't flown Lufthansa for years but if they take 2.5 hours to board a plane as shown on the example - I don't think I will.

If you really want to improve boarding passes make it double as an customs entry document that just needs signing.

CX

05 Jun 2012

Total posts 121

I love that last idea, but many of us keep our boarding passes in order to claim miles afterwards...

I would be so happy, though, if airlines could find some way to provide us (largely) precompleted immigration/customs documents - they have most of the information in their systems already

Qantas

10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

I remember that the airlines used to do something like this for departure cards, however, it was the governments that stopped it, as there is a requirement that individuals fill out their cards.

Qantas

10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

Apart from the seat number format, which to me is backwards (ie I look for row first, then seat number), I think this is aesthetically pleasing.

However, will it really speed up boarding? I find the whole barcode process compared with the old magnetic strip slower. NFC integrated with smartphones, such as is being used in Japan right now should surely be faster,and more convenient?

Skywards Gold

21 Apr 2011

Total posts 54

Frequent flyer status is missing, how are the boarding crew supposed to know to smile extra and welcome me back??

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 303

American Airlines i beleive has done something recently with their boarding pass... a quick search found this:

https://www.aa.com/i18n/urls/boardingpass.jsp
A lot of similar concepts.... 

One thing i always wish Boarding Passes had on them is the "Scheduled Arrival Time".  There has been more than 1 occasion where i've wanted to know the schedule ETA, but i could not find it.  Most FIDs only have departure times, and not arrival time, so i have to go into my booking and pull up manage my booking to find the arrival time... surely this information is valuable to lots of travellers...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Damn, the new AA boarding pass is nice! I'd love to see QF adopt a similar one. I love how the critical information for the passenger is large, and arranged in one stripe - Gate, Flight, Seat and Boarding Time.

Well done AA!

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 125

Wow, there's a surprising amount of hate for this new boarding pass!

Sure, there are some tweaks that could be made, but overall I think it's a clean and fairly simple design.  Remember, most passengers are infrequent flyers who don't read sites like AusBT.

I might add the ticket or record number somewhere on there too.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2012

Total posts 268

This redesigned bording pass will be much more simpler and easier to use. There should be some consistency of where certain things should be placed on the boarding passes on all airlines. Sometimes I have to highlight things like Boarding Time and Gate on boarding passes because everything looks the same.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Oct 2013

Total posts 93

While some elements work quite well, it should be said that the thermal printers that print BPs can only print in one colour - black. Different coloured text would be (currently) unfeasable, uneconomical and just not worth it in the broader sense. Also, if you think about it, BP text are already kinda split into the 3 rows of info, so it's all redundant.

I'd like to see the efforts go into technology/mobile endeavours instead - especially when it means improved real-time updates and interactivity (e.g. re: "first-time fliers", something novel like a seat map showing where you're sitting on the plane would be better than something trivial such as making Helvetica Neue as the BP font).

Besides, even if you do end up misreading your gate on your BP, then you'll probably won't miss your flight with the damn amount of PA calls they do in SYD...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

I should point out that the AA boarding pass I cited is for online check-in. However, I expect that most of its design would remain possible on thermal printers - most things are still black. Heck, even the FF status circles are black!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Oct 2013

Total posts 93

I think that airlines would keep the fonts black for online BPs too, with the whole thing about consistency with airport BPs, passengers printing them B&W...

But, I gotta agree with you watson- AA did a pretty good job on their rebranded BP! Kudos to them!

03 Oct 2013

Total posts 3

That's all well and good, except for the Qatar airways code on a Qantas boarding pass. Secondly QF77 is PER-SIN. And thirdly, there is no row22 or F on this A333.

Even if it was Qatar #77, that departs from Doha at 9:10am not 9:40, so theres a good chance you're either too late, or in the wrong country.

Apart from that... i guess its okay :]

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 938

Qatar is QR, not the QA shown on those ugly mockups. The QA code isn't currently in use. It was last used by Mexicana Click.

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 3

There are some missing in that boarding pass:-

- reference numbers/booking numbers

- Need to add "service" - it means extra service such as disabled person, frequent flyer, special meals, etc...

- Add a symbol - such as wheelchair

- Boarding time (it's a must)... so that pax know what time we have to be at the gate not departure time.

-Seq Number (it's a must)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Jun 2012

Total posts 6

There are a lot more things airline could fix first. At the ende of the day it is only a boarding pass. It tells you what flight, when etc. On a lot of accosions it may have the gate number but as everyone knows that has a big chance of being changed.

It is nort boarding passes that slow down loading planes it is people who think they can bring their suit case onboard and women with their trollies that are so heavy they cannot lift them up to the bins.

Let demand better service, food and seat space before we wsorry about Boarding Passes

 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

I know paper boarding passes are unlikely to ever die (because when all else fails, you can manually process them!) but wouldn't it be great if you had some sort of hybrid boarding pass "thing" that updated dynamically, guided you to your gate, "buzzed" gate and aircraft door staff about your imminent arrival and led you to your seat?

We can only dream lol.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Oct 2013

Total posts 93

The adoption of mobile technologies and aircraft connectivity mean it's entirely possible to implement a hybrid system - it'll be an exciting space to watch in the next couple of years!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Aug 2013

Total posts 8

I have no trouble reading my boarding passes.

How many people don't know that aircraft seat numbers start at the front? or that A is on LHS of aircraft? or that there are seat numbers on the bulkheads? or that the staff will tell you where to go?

The seat icons are potentially good, but the aisle one is confusing, the furthest seat should have the window behind it otherwise it is still ambiguous. I'd include window in all of them for consistency.

Seat 22A is more intuitive than Seat A22 because you look for the row then the seat.

Why is his name on the pass 3 times?

I like the concept, but this design is no significant improvement on current ones in my opinion.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Mar 2013

Total posts 66

Are we seriously running this short of stories, republished on 30/12/13??????? Really.......

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2341

As previously mentioned, over the Christmas / New Year period we're republishing selected stories that are still current, have been popular and span a variety of areas for broad reader appeal. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Mar 2013

Total posts 66

Point taken David but I think the boarding pass debate has been dissected ad infinitum. Perhaps something about QANTAS matching Virgin's toastie machines in clubs might spark some interesting debate with minimal resource deployment required. But then again I am unashamedly a Roo Fanatic.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Sep 2013

Total posts 4

The design stongly reminds me of iOS 7 (iPhone, iPad, etc)

Qantas

10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

If you said Windows Phone design cues I'd agree with you. WP is strong, clean and user friendly with a focus on information like the awesome WP Qantas App.  iOS7 is just too pastelly (if there is indeed such a word).

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Sep 2013

Total posts 4

I like the look of the new design but I don't feel the need for an "easier layout". Boarding passes are not as difficult to understand as the designer makes it out to be, I mean its not like it's extremely hard to find where you board, what time you board, your seat and your flight number. That's all the information you really need, I have never come accross a situation where I needed to know the date of my flight 1 hour before depature!

Also, why does it show in massive letters what airport your at? It's unlikely that you do not know what airport your at and even if you don't the Sfo > Syd should do that just fine.

And I'm not quite sure how printing on the stripe will go...

All in all, I just think that there is nothing wrong with the current boarding passes (they are not complicated), and that some things like the reversal of the seat coordinates (A22, not 22A) - First you find your row, then your seat (not the other way around!) 

I don't think airlines should bother

PS: Notice that in the example it takes lufthansa 2 hr 30m to board! 

29 Jun 2011

Total posts 6

Angus Says

That's all the information you really need, I have never come accross a situation where I needed to know the date of my flight 1 hour before depature!

Also, why does it show in massive letters what airport your at? It's unlikely that you do not know what airport your at and even if you don't the Sfo > Syd should do that just fine.


While I do not see a strong imperative to change the boarding pass but the above comments only suggest that your flying is limitted to single step flights.  It is not rare to have 4 boarding passes covering 3 or 4 dates and 3 or 4 departing airports in your hand at one time if you are flying internationally from one regional location to another regional location.  Flying east - west the dates can get confusing.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Apr 2014

Total posts 35

Yes , come on its 2014 and the crappy  passes hat don't fit in your pocket , or bits that fall off are sooooo 80s 


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