Improving the baggage experience
Produced @ Academy Xi
Service design: Improving the airline baggage experience
Checked luggage is now a multibillion-dollar business for airlines. Despite all that money and fewer checked bags — some 26 million suitcases go missing each year.
– Conde Nast Traveler
Airlines are working hard to improve the amount of mishandled bags. But, losing your bag, or finding it damaged is still a frustrating and crappy experience.
How can we help one of Australia's largest airlines create a painless, seamless, and secure baggage service? If they make a mistake, how do we help enable a heroic recovery?
It’s in the bag
Our mission was to provide a clear understanding of the current end-to-end process of baggage management (i.e. Acceptance, Handling, Services). We also provided recommendations for improving key areas for the passengers and employees of one of Australia's largest airlines.
At the end of our journey, we delivered current state blueprints including customer journeys, insights and opportunity areas and service concepts.
Research, Synthesis and Decision-making Tools
Getting on board
With a under 50 hours to understand the baggage process and come up with solutions. The pressure was a little overwhelming to say the least. However, learning and trusting the process really got us to some really great insights. Trusting the messiness was definitely one of the major challenges. Like packing for a trip, we can't take everything, so we needed to prioritise what we could do with the information we gathered.
Going behind-the-scenes to observe what happens to the bags from the time they are tagged at the counter or kiosk to when it gets on the plane was definitely eye opening. Observing and processing the complexity of the baggage process was mind-blowing. The different touchpoints that a piece of luggage encounters before it even gets to the plane was incredible. I will never look at luggage the same way again!
What we learnt through our research was:
- Heavy bags and bag design contribute to damaged and mishandled bags during baggage handling. Passengers experience difficulty handling heavy bags across the journey.
- When a bag is lost or damaged, the customer feels that there is a lack of empathy from airline staff.
- Baggage service is complex - a large number of service partners work together to track and deliver bags.
- Most passengers don't deal well with disruption, but for some passengers this could mean serious repercussions on their business.
We produced a final solution which addressed a number of these insights. My team focused on how we might help passengers avoid major disruptions to their travel.
Taking care of business
We developed a series of proto-personas of the customers we spoke to. We mapped out the current state experience based on this research from both a customer perspective, and also the service activities that fit with this. I was responsible for leading the baggage acceptance team, and from our interviews created the proto-persona of Jenny, 45, the frequent business flyer.
Jenny is a busy mother of two and flies often for business. She is a confident traveller and knows all the tricks of the trade. She usually avoids the crowds due to her Business Class status. She considers the flying and airport experience as part of work.
Jenny’s goal is to get through check-in as seamlessly as possible so she can concentrate on doing her work. Every minute of her journey is used so that no time is wasted.
What motivates Jenny is efficiency. She is a pre-planner and expects everything to run smoothly. She has high expectations and a low tolerance for mistakes.
The main barrier for Jenny is if things don’t go as planned. She has a short fuse and anything that slows down her journey is beyond annoying.
Storyboard & blueprint
Don't fly angry
Jenny's (Some-what) Excellent Adventure
We narrowed ideas to the ones we could explore within time constraints. We created ideas based on the enablers such as apps and software, additional services and processes, education, communication and incentivisation.
We decided to focus on the premium collection service as we saw this could remove the the check-in process at the airport altogether. We saw that the we could add value to the business by reducing the amount of luggage that was checked-in at the flight time thus improving transfer time for the baggage staff and creating a better experience for travellers.
Taking the lug out of luggage
A premium priority luggage freight service that takes the emotional baggage out of the equation.
How it works
- A passenger will order the service via the airline app, website or by phone
- The luggage courier service will pick up the bags prior to departure and drop it off at the destination at proposed time
Primary: This service is targeted at business, first class and Platinum Frequent Flyers (FF). Passengers traveling with oversized luggage.
Secondary: families, passengers with disability and minors travelling alone.
Quicker check-in process
- Less stress about getting to the airport on time for baggage check-in
Reduce stress on the overall baggage handling system
- Improvements to customer service as baggage will be considered as freight and will not travel with the passenger
- Reduction of number of checked in bags on a flight will improve the efficiencies and take away some of the stress of the baggage handling system
- More personalised experience for our business travellers
Further research into 3rd party suppliers and partnerships with businesses.
Price ticket consideration if a passenger takes up this offer.
This may be a paid service depending on FF type, destination as well as pick up time.