Page 1

Fly Safe Restoring Confidence in Air Travel During COVID-19 A Design Booklet by Mandy Hui

Acknowledgements This project was made possible with the support of Professor Chantal Trudel at Carleton University School of Industrial Design and industry partners. Many thanks to the Centre for Air Travel Research at the National Research Council of Canada for their partnership in this project, as well as Dr. Matthew Menard, Samantha Lovelace, and Sophie Nakashima for their constructive feedback along the way.

Table of Contents


Project Scope


Final Concept


Background Research


System Overview


The Problem


Fly Safe App


Opportunities for Design


Information Architecture:


Design Development

Passenger Application (Frontend)


Concept Exploration


Information Architecture:


Concept Direction

Aircraft Application (Backend)


Participatory Design


Passenger Care Kit


Mobile Application and Additional


In-Flight Services



Concept Value


Concept Refinement


Looking to the Future


Health Tips

36 References


Brand Development

37 Appendix

Project Scope The goal of this project was to develop long term solutions in the air travel industry that support public trust and health during COVID-19 and future infectious disease outbreaks. This booklet details the development of Fly Safe, a design system which aims to improve perceptions and restore passenger confidence.

Background Research COVID-19 has had a greater impact on the air travel industry than any previous event. In 2020, the virus caused global industry losses of $370 billion and a 60% decrease in passenger demand (ICAO, 2021). The impacts are widespread, affecting a multitude of direct and indirect stakeholders, as seen to the right. With ongoing challenges and a relatively low profit margin, it is expected that the industry will only see a recovery in 2024 (IATA, 2020). This urges the need for resilient solutions that will help restore travel demand.

Ancillary Services


Public Health




Governing and Regulatory Bodies


The Problem Communication of Information Various restrictions and protocols have been adopted since the start of the pandemic to support public health during air travel. However, the need to stay updated on frequently changing information has placed a new cognitive load on travellers. Issues related to communication were common sources for confusion, stress, and unmet expectations among travellers who were interviewed for this project.

Changing information

Abundance of information

Disjointed information

Miscommunications and unmet expectations

Willingness to Fly Low willingness to fly poses a large challenge to the recovery of the air travel industry. According to a study by Lamb et al. (2020), a person’s willingness to fly during COVID-19 is most influenced by the four following factors:

Increased perceived threat of COVID-19 = less willing to fly. Increased agreeableness = less willing to fly (may skip flying to protect others). Increased positive emotions (affect) = more willing to fly. Increased fear around COVID-19 = less willing to fly.

During field research interviews with people who had flown between March and September 2020, only one of eight people said they would feel comfortable flying again during COVID-19.

Current Perceptions Findings from interviews and an online survey showed that people tend to hold negative feelings towards COVID-19 air travel, using words like stressful, unsafe, and troublesome to describe their experiences. Others shared they felt like their safety was not a priority to their airline.

“It felt like, ‘Get these passengers on the plane and get them off.’ There was no concern for safety... It felt like they announced everything at once, just because it was policy.” - P2, Student flying home from the U.S. to Kuwait

Opportunities for Design Research revealed a large opportunity to restore passenger confidence by improving perceptions around pandemic air travel. This implies addressing the factors outlined by Lamb et al. (2020) and the concerns shared during field research. The opportunity was guided by three main goals:

Improving passenger comfort

Communicating health as a priority

Surfacing information


Design Development Concept Exploration Scenarios and sketches were used to quickly explore concepts. These looked at problems at various stages of the travel journey, from booking to the in-flight experience.

Eating on board scenario


Aircraft seat and barrier designs


Queuing and boarding service

With more development and research, it became clear that a single product would not likely resolve issues around travel confidence. In addition, initial ideas were largely directed at improving physical comfort through aircraft seating and barriers. Designing for comfort, however, also requires considering cognitive and emotional factors. These realizations led to the design of a system with more inclusive considerations of passenger comfort.

Staggered seat arrangements


Concept Direction A mobile application was conceptualized to allow passengers to monitor their flight's cleaning status, customize their complimentary health kits, and select their mealtime in order to stagger mask removal in-flight. The idea was to increase transparency and restore a sense of control among passengers. Once on board, the in-flight-entertainment system would continue to allow passengers to learn about cabin safety.

Managing expectations


Participatory Design Mobile Application and Additional Services Usability testing was conducted on a clickable prototype to evaluate navigation, content, and the acceptance of new services. These included meal staggering (the concept of distributing meals to every other seat at a time) and customization of in-flight health kits. Testing revealed the following:

Meal staggering was highly accepted to increase comfort around eating on board, but was not intuitively understood when listed with the seat selection page.


Searching for COVID-19 travel regulations was one of the most valuable features of the app. People desired to have this information all in one place.

People wanted to learn about health kits prior to boarding, but were unlikely to skip or customize the kit. Expectations were that every passenger should receive a kit to encourage safe health behaviours in-flight.

Passenger Health Kits Scenario interviews supported that placing the health kit in passengers' seats was the most convenient point of retrieval. The sanitizing wipes were the most useful items, since most people said they would carry their own hand sanitizer and mask. Further testing with physical protoypes showed that the kit should be compact, with contents easily seen and accessed upon interaction. A design where the sanitizing wipes were separated from the rest of the contents (seen to the right) helped participants clean and get into their seats faster. Handling too many items at once slowed down this process. It was also learned that printed information could help guide proper usage of items. Information was more often read when printed onto the kit than on an insert.

People preferred a compact kit that could be easily stored.

Information on the inside cover was more often read and encouraged proper maskwearing.

Too many items slowed down the boarding process and made it difficult to clean one's seat.


Concept Refinement Health Tips Participants were involved in a card sorting activity to further improve the app design. The sorting led to the development of a new page providing guidelines for safe travel during COVID-19. This page became an important way of connecting the app design to in-flight meal staggernig and health kits.


Brand Development Brand Attributes

Logo Construction

Safe Clean





Branding Guidelines


Final Concept System Overview Fly Safe integrates a mobile application, passenger care kit, and in-flight services to help restore confidence around travelling during COVID-19. The app helps manage passenger expectations by providing information on travel regulations, flight conditions, and health tips, including information on new in-flight health kits and meal staggering. Working at different points along the journey (see below), Fly Safe prepares people for pandemic air travel and guides passengers through infection prevention and control (IPAC).


Fly Safe App


Interoperability The mobile app is key to connecting system components and making information more accessible. Its interoperable design involves airlines and global air travel organizations (such as IATA) to provide accurate information all in one place (see pages 30-31). This allows for information to be updated regularly and reduces the cognitive strain on travellers.

Global air travel organizations


User Interface Design The app has five main pages to help people stay updated about flight and travel information, learn about in-flight health, manage their COVID-19 documents, and submit contact tracing forms.

Flight Status •

General flight details

Status with real-time cleaning updates

Seat map showing flight capacity and closed seating


COVID-19 Information

Health Tips


Care Kits: what's in the kit, where to expect it, and how to use it most effectively.

Eating on Board: information on new meal staggering procedures.

Cabin Cleanliness: air quality, tips for limiting primary and secondary transmission of COVID-19.

Mask Protocols: guidelines for proper mask wear.

National travel regulations related to booked flights: COVID-19 testing, quarantine, entry restrictions and requirements.

Airport information: COVID-19 testing, retail and service changes, health procedures.

Airline information: policies, health procedures.

Documents •

Access COVID-19 test results

Import health certificates

Boarding passes

Contact Tracing •

Submit digital contact tracing forms

Email notification about positive cases post-flight


Backend Design A backend app was created for aircraft cleaners to communicate live updates to passengers. The checklist helps cleaners keep track of new disinfection practices. Meanwhile, passengers receive a notification on the Fly Safe app when cleaning is complete to confirm that proper disinfection has taken place.




Send Update

Use checklist to review new cleaning procedures.

Send status update once cleaning is complete.



Updated Status

Passengers receive a notification from the Fly Safe app about cabin cleaning.

Confirmation that cabin has been fully disinfected for the next flight.


Information Architecture: Passenger Application (Frontend)



Information Architecture: Aircraft Application (Backend)


*Currently outlined for aircraft cleaning, but may be adapted to include additional aircraft procedures such as pre-flight checks.


Passenger Care Kit The redesigned health kit can be adopted and co-branded by airlines. It provides passengers with extra health supplies to feel safer during their flight. People can learn about their kit through the Fly Safe app prior to boarding. When presented consistently, the kit helps communicate value around passenger health and promote IPAC behaviours. The package is made from a gloss coated cardstock (see Appendix for dimensioned template). It is protected in a polyethylene bag, which can be used as a garbage bag after opening. Reducing the kit to essential health items leads to a smaller design that is easier to use.


Protective PE packaging 1 disposable mask

4 sanitizing wipes

1 mini bottle of hand sanitizer


In-Flight Services Meal Staggering This service adaptation aims to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and increase comfort around eating on board. Seating is used to group people into two different eating times to prevent adjacent passengers from removing their masks at the same time.

How it Works Time Both groups are notified that meals will start soon.

Both groups are notified that meals will start soon.

Meals are distributed to Group 1; Group 1 eats.

Group 2 wears their masks while Group 1 eats.

Group 1 finishes eating and cleans up.

Group 1 wears their masks while Group 2 eats.


Group 2 waits for Group 1 to clean up.

Meals are distributed to Group 2; Group 2 eats.

Scenario Walkthrough 1

Passenger receives a meal notification on their inflight entertainment screen. They learned that they are in the Group 1 mealtime.


They use their care kit to sanitize their hands and tray table, as recommended in the app.


5 minutues before their session is over, Group 1 passengers receive a message to begin cleaning up.


They open the Fly Safe app to review how meal staggering works.


Meals are distributed to passengers in Group 1; Group 1 eats.


Group 1 passengers sanitize and re-mask so meal service for Group 2 can begin.




*In-flight entertainment




Concept Value By integrating digital, physical, and service components, Fly Safe takes an inclusive approach to increase willingness to fly. Considering again the factors listed by Lamb et al. (2020), Fly Safe can help:

Reduce the perceived threat of COVID-19 by communicating new safety procedures, such as deep cleaning and meal staggering.

Increase cooperation of IPAC behaviours by equipping every person with health supplies and guidelines for proper usage.

Reduce fear by providing travellers with the information, health tips and supplies to protect themselves during their journey.

Increase positive emotions around the experience by offering complimentary care kits and valuing passenger safety.

Communicating health as a priority

Looking to the Future Restoring passenger confidence will be key to improving travel demand. Fly safe aims to do so by considering different dimensions of passenger comfort, prioritizing health, and surfacing information to reduce cognitive loads. While the air travel industry may not be able to predict global situations, it can leverage designs that help manage perceptions and maintain trust during uncertain times.


Improving passenger comfort

Surfacing information


References IATA. (2020, May 15). IATA Economics’ Chart of the Week: Five years to return to the pre-pandemic level of passenger demand. Retrieved from economic-reports/Five-years-to-return-to-the-pre-pandemic-level-of-passenger-demand/ ICAO. (2021, January 15). 2020 passenger totals drop 60 percent as COVID-19 assault on international mobility continues. Retrieved from Lamb, T.L., Winter, S.R., Rice, S., Ruskin, K.J., & Vaughn, A. (2020). Factors that predict passengers willingness to fly during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Air Transport Management, 89, 1-10. 10.1016/j.jairtraman.2020.101897


Appendix Table 1: Overview of Testing Methods Health Kits (Items and distribution)

Health Kits (Physical design)

Usability testing and feedback: participants were asked to complete certain tasks and find information while navigating through a clickable prototype over video call.

Scenario interviews: discussion-based testing completed through video call. Participants were shown current health kits and visual scenarios of where and how they might receive a kit, then asked to share their thoughts.

Simulated boarding scenario with health kits. Participants were briefed about the kits before testing, then asked to board and use the kits as they would in a real flight situation during COVID-19.

To understand what information and features users found useful; To evaluate content organization, layout, and communication.

To understand what people expected in their kits and at which point they would expect to receive it.

To observe how people interacted with the kit and its contents during boarding; compare the effectiveness of different kit designs.

Clickable wireframe protoype

Slide deck with images of kits and visual scenarios.

Arrange chairs to simulate cabin seating with 30" seat pitch. Physical kit prototypes.

6 online participants

9 online participants

3 in-person participants

Successful or unsuccessful completion of tasks; discussion of thought process, ease of use, and points of confusion; feedback.

Discussion and feedback.

Observation notes, follow-up questions and feedback.

Mobile App

Method and Procedure


Prototypes and Preparation




Care Kit Technical Drawing Inner Graphics and Dimensions


Stay safe in-flight during COVID-19 Keep your mask on in-flight. Make sure your mask covers your nose and chin. Sanitize or wash your hands with soap frequently, and avoid touching your face.

0.5” 1”

0.5” 2”


Wipe down your tray table and other hard surfaces before use. Learn more in the Fly Safe app


2.25” 1.5”


2.25” 8.5”



Outer Graphics

Care Kit

Fly Safe Thank you for doing your part. By using the items in this kit, practicing proper hand hygiene, and following protocols, you are helping to keep everyone on this plane safe and healthy. We’re all in this together, and your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

1 mask

1 sanitizer

4 wipes


Fly Safe Learning through COVID-19: Designing for the Future April 27, 2021

Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.