Alaska Airlines is a major American airline headquartered in SeaTac, Washington, within Seattle metropolitan area. It is the fifth largest airline in the United States when measured by fleet size, scheduled passengers carried, and the number of destinations served.
Part of a successful airplane journey with a pet is to be prepared for the trip and take the specific airline rules and policies into account, know what to expect throughout the process, and have confidence and knowledge to troubleshoot. Being in the unknown environment adds to the stress of the trip for both pet parents and pets.
I want to examine the top pain points in the process of air travel with pets to provide the tool that would make this experience more manageable and enhance the level of comfort during the process. The new feature in the app needs to be seamlessly integrated within the existing brand guidelines.
For this project I leveraged data from the research to create a new feature that could be seamlessly integrated into an existing product and minimize the feeling of insecurity and stress and prepares the user for the next steps in the travel process.
Below are the areas I’d like to explore during the research. I want to understand:
To understand the current experience and pain points in the booking and travel preparation process, I decided to evaluate the information available on Alaska Airlines website and app. Here are some of the most important things that I have found out:
To get the full picture of experiences of air travels with pets, I interviewed 5 people who have taken their pets on both domestic and international flights. Below are some insights and highlights:
As the process of pet travels consists of several steps and layers, I created the service blueprint that allowed me to fully understand where the most friction points are and how can I improve the process. I used all of the data I could gather through other parts of the research and compiled it in the tool below.
After conducting my research, talking to the users and going through the service blueprint, I decided to create a POV statement matrix to address the biggest concerns and patterns that I noticed during the process of air travels with a pet and think of ways to address them. What surprised me was that even though the process of booking the travel and preparation is cumbersome, the most ambiguity happens while the users start the actual travel process and have little space to navigate the situation. They need the tool that would help them feel better when they have limited space and resources to troubleshoot.
Next in the process I was able to address two biggest pain point moments that happen during the process stating from the consideration moment. As the anxiety around the unknown during the travel is high, I decided that keeping the user in the know can reduce the stress of the travel and make the whole experience easier.
The first version of lo-fi wireframes allowed me to run early tests and discover the priority revisions that need to be implemented before I start building the high fidelity prototype. The version below includes the revisions made to the information architecture and microcopy such as:
Part of the challenge of this project was to incorporate the new feature smoothly, which meant I needed to adhere to the Alaska Airlines brand standards. As the feature is heavily priented towards the visual aspect, I created a set of large icons to help the user navigate and discover the functionality.
I tested the 2nd version of the prototype with 11 users to see how the updates I made improved usability and overall experience of using the new feature. Some insights are presented below:
I started this project with a broad idea to discover the pain points in the process of travelling with a pet and figure a way to make it a more pleasant experience for both animals and pet owners. As the research showed, there is a lot of unknown that cause the distress, I believe that preparing the user for success when they have to operate fast and under stress, can eliminate some pain points. Ideally in the long term, this project could go beyond the digital experience and address the physical touchpoint in the process, that would overall improve the service.