Week 3: Typography & Expression

Part 1: Redesign of Airline Boarding Pass

I approached this assignment with two questions: 1) how is an airline ticket used in an airport, and 2) how can I incorporate what we’ve discussed about design principles and typeface into a refreshing update?

To start I envisioned arriving to the airport as a passenger and all my steps to reach my departure gate. Assuming mobile boarding passes are not unavailable, the first steps would be to check in, check any bags, retrieve a paper boarding pass, and head to the TSA security screening area. Upon reaching security, I would expect to present not only my boarding pass but also valid identification. TSA needs to scan my ticket, confirm that I am indeed the person represented on my boarding pass, ensure my “Docs” are “OK”,  and if I have Precheck status.* The hierarchy of my ticket redesign addresses this first encounter: in this vertical orientation, all passenger-specific information, including checked baggage, is front-loaded at the top. Everyone wants to move quickly through this checkpoint, so why not make it easier for TSA agents to find what they need?

After security, I would locate my gate and confirm my boarding time on the airport’s monitors. Pushing this upfront with a readily accessible flight number is handy, especially if there are multiple flights to my destination city that day. So, all flight-related information for both the passenger and the airline (in the event that changes are requested at the gate) is centralized in this next section, including the bar code scanned during the boarding process.

The final and third section of the boarding pass is sometimes separated by airline gate agents and provided to customers as record of their journey. The information presented here is solely for use by the passenger in the event they contact the airline regarding their flight or lost baggage.

Considering the goals of clarity, consistency, and simplicity, I implemented many additional changes to increase the readability of this document starting with white space. Lots of it. Some of this came about naturally as I rearranged the text, but I also deleted what I considered redundant and unnecessary, such as the date label, the departure time, and the ticket class status. By the time of actual departure, the plane is usually pulling out of the gate or in route to the runway; it’s more important that customers reach their gates at the onset of boarding. Similarly, seat assignments should be tied to class status in the airline’s database; this information is not useful for fliers, but I’d expect it to be easily retrievable by the airline. Increasing the negative space provides pertinent details much needed breathing room and highlights purposeful groupings, such as the departure and arrival cities as well as the boarding time, boarding zone, and seat assignment.

Other design choices included: stucking to one font, Roboto, in Light and Black weight variations only, and in two sizes only--one double the point size of the other.  As much as possible, I justified the text to the left and converted instances of all caps to lowercase. I placed duplicate information in the bottom tear-off in the same relative locations as above. Last but not least, I decreased the size of the airline logo and altered labels in favor of shorter words (i.e. arrive instead of destination). The less clutter the better.

*Pure assumption based on the data provided on the original boarding pass and my previous experience as an airline passenger.

Part 2: Expressive Words

Originally sketched by hand, I then traced the designs in Adobe Illustrator, smoothed with Object > Path > Simplify, and tweaked with the Pen and Curvature Tools. My first week using Illustrator, I enjoyed the resulting combination of super smooth edges and yet some retention of a hand drawn line quality.