British Airways

Service Design

British Airways is a full-service global airline. The brand is synonymous with air-travel, and throughout the decades have demonstrated an outstanding safety record, and provided customers with an exceptional standard of service on-board their airlines.

The Challenge.

Adverse weather conditions, strikes, political unrest and other different causes can impact airlines daily operations.

Cancelling flights naturally causes customers a great deal of stress and frustration, as the plane they had intended to take is no longer available. The ripple effect will be individuals cannot reach their destination, may miss their business meeting, while their relationship with the "BA" brand may be stretched beyond breaking point.

Currently, British Airways digital ecosystem cannot successfully convey messages or answer the questions of an irate customer. Passengers are forced to engage with a non-user centric interface, which frequently fails to resolve their needs, at a time they want an answer - quickly.

Secondary Research.

It is estimated that there are 100,000 flights globally per day, with customers rarely being loyal towards a specific brand or company. As a result the aviation industry is extremly competitive, with each airline aiming to gain market share over their competitors through lowering prices, or by improving the brand experience the customer recieves.

Tailored additions such as "free wifi" or "a cool app" provide a brand a competitive advantage over its rivals. With this in mind, it was fundamental to review areas of innovation both inside and outside the airline sector, which potentially British Airways could adopt in any future disruption solution.

KLM, Heathrow, Easy Jet Examples

Image: Industry Secondary Research

Discovery Workshop.

This was a project that had a long legacy attached to it, which had evolved over several years into various iterations. To ensure all aspects of the project were captured I recruited as many individuals from across the company ranging from call centre operators to hosting staff who work face-to-face with customers on the floor of Heathrow Terminal 5.

1. Kick-off

The initial phase of the workshop saw members carry out a series of warm-up tasks, collaborating in groups to complete various activities to stimulate creativity.

2. Knowledge gathering

To extract as much information as possible, and eliminate distractions or political debate, participants were spread out into mixed groups. We used this time to discover what employees perceive to be as pain-points, and how we can relieve these digitally using the value proposition canvas technique. Furthermore, to build on this we identified gain creators for the customer and the organisation as a whole.

Value Proposition Canvas

Image: Value Proposition Canvas

3. Understanding business requirements

For the remainder of the session, we identified which relievers were achievable (and through what means), whilst also defining how these could be aligned with British Airways' overall business requirements and future strategies.

Workshop, British Airways HQ

Image: Workshop, Harmondsworth


To scale my approach, I produced a series of personas which I could focus on, and begin to independently understand unique pain points and overall requirements a customer might face when confronted with airline disruption. This enabled me to maximise the information I obtained within the workshop session, whilst evolve my thinking and identify further areas of opportunity to enhance a customers experience and differentiate BA against its competitors.

By storyboarding persona journeys, I was able to begin to define initial screen designs and modular requirements, whilst also recognise ways in-which problems can be solved by stress-testing and in turn, user-testing designs with fellow designers, and stakeholders situated nearby in the office.


To generate material that would allow for concept testing, I developed a series of wireframes across the three breakpoints. This enabled me to flesh out ideas into a more solidified concept while allowing me to align my thinking with the new branding which the British Airways branding teams had been developing in unison.

Wifreframes were produced using sketch, then integrated into invision and principle. This allowed me to develop a solution which could then be used for user testing purposes.

User Flow Diagram

Image: User Flow Diagram

Usability Testing.

Primary research took place over two days in lab conditions (i-View, London) and as a gorilla testing exercise at London's Heathrow Terminal 5 (pre-security). In order to gain a rich output I sampled a broad spectrum of individuals, mixing older and younger, digital savvy and not so, plus participants BA status' (blue, silver, gold).

1. Problem discovery

Participants provided insights related to their overall impressions of the user journeys. This provided an initial overview of what worked well, and what didn't. Furthermore, we were able to identify if there was anything that had been missed in the design process and whether we could utilise any further avenue of innovation.

"Why is my ticket in a lower class?"
"Where is my vegetarian meal?"
"Which airline am I on?"
"Can I share my status change?"
"Airport change needs to be clearer..."

2. Usability task completion

To fully understand how effective the new interface was in converting users to completing a specific goal, I set a series of tasks and got users to see how easy (and quickly) they were able to complete them.

Exercises took place in a busy terminal 5 (with irate customers who have recently had their flight cancelled), and in a lab in central London.

Gorilla Testing

Image: Gorilla Testing

3. Overall sentiment

To conclude the user testing I obtained a series of core sentiment statements in order to evolve the iteration.

"I like the design, it's clean..."
"I like how the core message is in red..."
"How do I find out what airline I am on?..."
"How do I change my meal/status?"
"I'd like to be able to speak to a human being..."
"I'd like to have a selection of flights, not just be assigned one..."

The End Product.

Although the project proceeded beyond the end of my contract the product was begining to appear from concepting and design iteration.

Client: British Airways
Date: Late 2018
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