Design for People: Travel + Luggage

Airline travel, one part designed to protect us from the .001% and the other part designed for the price of jet fuel. What part of airline travel is designed for people? Not much.

Airline travel is likely one of the least designed experiences we have in our lives. While many of the issues are "first-world problems" and a good portion are in place for our safety and security, there are still ways to design a better experience. 

For instance, it has been our contention for a while that if airlines charged for "carry-on" luggage and gave "checked" luggage away for free, the entire experience would change dramatically. Behavior often follows the fiscal incentives, certainly in a commoditized industry / experience, which is what you see in air travel today. 

When airlines started charging for checked bags, even more people carried on even larger bags. The result is a clogged aisle when you board a plane and a monotonous process when you disembark.

Now, switch the economics to a model where airlines charge for carry-on bags and give checked baggage away for free. How does this change the prototypical experience? More passengers check bags and it becomes easier to board a plane. The baggage claim and distribution system was designed to move bags in a proper and efficient manner. The traveller carry-on process was not designed to haul luggage efficiently and would require redesigned planes to have more overhead and underfoot luggage space. So, use the system designed to haul luggage for luggage and use the system designed for people for people. 

How does this sound to you? Anyone interested in taking us up on this idea? Anyone interested in a further discussion to dig into the cracks of the idea and find the design opportunities?


Michael Ruhs said...

Interesting idea. I'm all for anything that improves the flying experience, which has lost all luster since 911. I believe travelers would respond to the economic incentive of free checked baggage, but I wonder how quickly that would be abused resulting in angry baggage handlers, lost and damaged luggage. I suppose free checked baggage would require some small print about limits. Sure worth a try because what's happening now, isn't working.

Aaron Keller said...

Changing what isn't working requires a competitive shift and someone with leadership skills to admit the current status isn't working. I agree, something needs to change or trains will be the more viable option someday.


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