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June 23, 2014


Fixing the In-Flight Service Interaction

No matter who I speak to, there seems to be a travelling pain point specific to flying that all travellers can relate to. The food/beverage service has resisted evolution, and hasn't changed in decades, remaining a woefully inefficient, unenjoyable and awkward experience.  

Seat occupants are cramped, typically haven't seen the menu, and the interaction during selection and payment is poor.  For the air hosts the process is slow and clumsy as they are left repeating options and fighting to be heard above engine noise whilst juggling serving and collecting payments.

There are many ways this experience could be vastly improved and reimagined, all without too much alteration to the existing paradigm.  

Consider This.

Flights collect an immense amount of passengers data and know the habits and preferences of frequent travellers.  Traveller history is completely digital, set by the traveller during the booking process.  Yet it appears that the data collected is sent down a black hole - an enormous missed opportunity for airlines.

There also exists vastly simpler methods of collecting payment than those currently employed.  These new payment options would speed up the entire process with the added benefit of removing the travellers needed to reach for wallets, trying to assemble correct change to purchase an item during service.

The potential payoff for fixing the above experiences is vastly improved customer satisfaction, but also increased revenue.  The improved efficiency would allow for additional food/beverage services to occur during flights, and passengers are more likely to engage in an experience that is engaging, fluid and positive.

The Studio Proper design team has chosen to help the likes of Qantas, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and more by illustrating innovation to drive enjoyable experiences for hosts and passengers alike.

Proper In-Flight Service

Step 1 - Divide and Conquer.

Our reimagined process begins with air hosts moving through the cabin, collecting orders from passengers via iPad.  The iPad is set to display the name of each passenger along with any previous preferences they have requested during bookings or past flights.  

Imagine being approached by a smiling air host who addresses you by name, references a past trip you took, and asks whether you'd like the same selection of snack/meal/beverage as last time.  I can feel the relaxation setting in already.  I'm instantly at ease, and exceedingly satisfied with the way my previous interaction with the airline has been recorded and used to enhance my current and future experiences.

Step 2 - Quick and Painless Payment.

Once the host has recorded the passengers' order, a cashless payment is processed via a bluetooth connected credit card reader connected to the hosts iPad.  Better yet, airlines could leverage solutions provided by Paypal to provide Paypal account holders with direct phone to ipad transactions that don't require any card swipe at all.

Step 3 - Orderly Cart Loading.

Whilst the air hosts are collecting orders and payment, the seat selections are being communicated to a screen in the galley where hosts load meal, snack and beverage selections into a reimagined cart, in the order in which the meals will be delivered.

Step 4 - Quick, Personal Delivery.

The trolly can be operated by one or two hosts, and meals are dispensed quickly and efficiently.  Hosts are able to greet passengers by name, confirm the items ordered, and quickly deliver the meals to passengers.


Proper Food Cart Design

The proper airline food cart is designed to fit the general footprint of existing carts, with the added benefit of allowing enough room for passengers to slide past the trolley and move around the cabin freely.  By loading and storing the trays efficiently the cart design can take on a minimised footprint.  Further, the preorder process means carts can move swiftly through the cabin, their primary objective being delivery as opposed to clumsy combination of selection, assembly and delivery.

A cart mounted iPad allows hosts to greet passengers by their name whilst serving, and to sell any additional items requested quickly and efficiently.

Minimally Invasive Solutions.

The key to solving big design and interaction problems that exist within complex networks of moving parts is proving the new solution can be viably delivered within the existing framework.  

The Proper Food Service concept, whilst delivering a completely reimagined experience, has been designed to require minimal changes outside of the in flight service itself.  The food carts have integrated panels that slide into place whilst not in use to completely enclose the cart for safe and efficient transport between food facility and airplane.


Airlines of the world, the ball is now firmly in your court.  You can reach the Proper design team on +613 9525 2334, we'd love to show you how we can innovate and deliver a truly sky high experience that in this world of hyper competitive ticket pricing and an ever emergent need to find extra revenue dollars, may well give you the competitive edge you've been looking for.


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