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This is what a boarding pass should look like

Posting in Design

When you're tired and in a hurry, it can be hard to make sense of drunken jumbles of numbers, letters, colons, and barcodes at a quick glance.

What might a useful, less confusing boarding pass look like? Adam Glynn-Finnegan, a designer for Evernote, came up with his own design -- one that works within cost restraints and airport printer limitations, while being flexible with content restrictions (accommodating a name with dozens of characters, for example).

“It was apparent that a designer has rarely, if ever, been involved in the creation of boarding passes,” he says. “They were originally built for computers, by computers.”

From a design perspective, the biggest challenge posed by a boarding pass is that it has at least two, and oftentimes three users: TSA agents, airline staff, and the traveler. Relevant information can be distributed across horizontal bands (and possibly even color-coded) for the appropriate set of eyes.

Additionally, they're not just used at one point during a trip. Ideally, boarding passes would guide travelers through their entire journey: from the moment you retrieve one from a kiosk to the time you’re buckled up in your seat.

Thus, the main innovation of his redesign, according to Wired, is to introduce chronology to the layout. You don’t need to know your seat number until you’re on the plane. Before that, the questions are: What time do I fly? What gate do I leave from?

  • The top is information for the TSA agent: airline, airports/route, flight number, passenger name.
  • Then comes information for the airline staff: name, date.
  • Underneath that, information for the passenger before boarding: gate, boarding time, flight number.
  • Then information for the passenger at the gate and on-board: boarding group (or zone number), seat number, departure time. It also comes with little icons indicating where you’ll be (front or rear) and whether you have a window, middle, or aisle seat.
  • The very bottom of the ticket is for the airline staff: frequent flyer number, assigned cabin, barcodes to scan.

Depending on where you are in your trip, you’ll know exactly where to look.

[Medium via Wired]

Images: Adam Glynn-Finnegan

— By on September 26, 2013, 4:01 PM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure