I’ve been flying since the early 90s, and one of the things that has barely changed in the two-and-a-half decades is the paper boarding pass. It’s usually long, and ends up getting folded to fit into a wallet, pocket, or bag. There is a dotted line around a third of the length in –so not a great place to fold at, but usually starts getting torn before arriving at the gate anyway. There is also a lot of cluttered text in clunky fonts. Some airlines make the gate and boarding time info relatively large and/or bolded so you can distinguish that info from the rest of the text.
For the past 15 years, I have pondered when airlines would revamp their boarding pass. There have been electronic tickets, kiosks, early check-in –all great things. But, like paper receipts, paper plane tickets are sticking around. My thoughts center around two concerns: 1) How can we convey relevant information to the passenger? 2) How can we use less paper for environmental reasons and for ease of handling by the passenger?
Last month, I flew Virgin America for the first time from SFO > ORD. I’ve heard good things about Virgin and wanted to see what the experience was like, so I approached a kiosk to print out a boarding pass. To my delight, I received a ticket that was half the size of the usual boarding pass, with clean, organized text.
This picture illustrates the size of my Virgin plane ticket next to a U.S. state ID, which is standard credit card size. The bottom-left, under the departure time was the barcode scan for the gate. Reiterating from my receipts post, a lot of information can fit in that barcode, especially information for the airlines’ eyes only.
It was really exciting to see this boarding pass; my challenge for the Plane Ticket is to up the ante and include the passenger-relevant information on a business card size ticket. Seems easy, but let’s remember that the paper boarding pass has not seen innovation in over two decades. Inertia is real.
- Product: Paper boarding passes (assuming that they will still be around, in conjunction with electronic tickets)
- Problem: Cluttered info on long pieces of paper > 1) hard to find relevant info immediately 2) wastes paper (not environmentally friendly)
- Solution: The Virgin ticket has the right idea. I would say, go even further and make the ticket in the size of a business card.