Boarding Pass Fail from Delta

Tyler Thompson had a very discomforting experience with the Delta Boarding passes and he went ahead and took the time to make different designs that on his point of view meets the requirements of the customers.

Here you can see the first design Tyler did:

And here you can see a Delta boarding pass similar to what Tyler used:

to see the real pass he was handed visit his site

I personally haven’t done a lot of traveling but on the few flights I have had in the past years i can easily identify the gate and seat number in the boarding pass. At first glance it is difficult to distinguish the numbers in the suggested design since they are aligned one after the other on a black strip and they all look like a continuous line rather than a separate entity.

Some other things that need to be kept in mind when designed to such a broader audience is


Is the design going to be translated in different languages and and do we have enough room in case they are printed on a different language?
Is the user at any time have to read the boarding pass left to right, is the design going to fit that requirement?


Will the company have to spend millions of dollars more in order to use color versus only one color ink?


How many men hours do we need to train people so they know exactly where the new information will be located on the new boarding passes?
How long do we expect everyone to get used to it and how long do we expect people to ask why it has changed and how to find the information?


Is it legible to everyone?
Can everyone read the numbers?


Don’t get me wrong, the suggested design looks “pretty” but how many times after you went through the inspection point the first thing you look at is the Flight Number? This is a boarding pass not a buss ticket. Once you have gone though security and you look at your ticket, What is the first thing you look at? I personally look at the Gate Number so that I can figure out where to go from there. I don’t see people walking by the isles trying to see the flight number on the plane to identify it.

Interestingly enough Tyler’s inspiration for his post was the post by Dustin Curtis in regards to the American Airlines website horror experience he had while trying to book a flight which as a consequence one of the UX Designers had his contract terminated due to him taking the time to explain the procedures of large corporations and the reasons behind the “ugly” design though corporate email.

I say I find this interesting because if you follow the post from Dustin you can learn a lot and understand why things are done the way they are and is not as easy as to turn on and off a switch but it is a lot more involved than that. This is part of the response from the UX Designer

Let me explain. The group running consists of at least 200 people spread out amongst many different groups, including, for example, QA, product planning, business analysis, code development, site operations, project planning, and user experience. We have a lot of people touching the site, and a lot more with their own vested interests in how the site presents its content and functionality. Fortunately, much of the public-facing functionality is funneled through UX, so any new features you see on the site should have been vetted through and designed by us before going public.

However, there are large exceptions. For example, our Interactive Marketing group designs and implements fare sales and specials (and doesn’t go through us to do it), and the Publishing group pushes content without much interaction with us… Oh, and don’t forget the AAdvantage team (which for some reason, runs its own little corner of the site) or the international sites (which have a lot of autonomy in how their domains are run)… Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that is a huge corporate undertaking with a lot of tentacles that reach into a lot of interests. It’s not small, by any means.

So the ideas of revamping a site or updating the way a boarding pass is great but keep in mind it is just more than “I like it this way” call by one person but it is a team and layer of contributors that you have to consult before making the final call.

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2 thoughts on “Boarding Pass Fail from Delta

  1. I think Tyler was just trying to make the boarding pass more accessible, with larger numbers, in an easy left-to-right format that can be glanced at quickly on the go. The numbers a are larger and clearly delineated through the thin white lines, and the titles above them. Personally I find my eyes have to do less work to get the same amount of information, which is something we all wish for.

    I’m sure he – and hopefully most of us – understand that this isn’t a one man call of personal taste. But I think when someone starts a fun project like this, people in corporations like delta can start to think outside the box and maybe make a change here or there.

    In the end, if you didn’t like his design, you just didn’t like it. I think you crafted this overreaching argument against something that was never really meant to happen.

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