Delta is the second-largest airline in the world by operation size. It carries millions of passengers every year within America and abroad.
Every year, especially during the skiing season, Delta experiences a massive surge in oversized baggage transfers since many people carry their skis to popular ski destinations. Accommodating these skis in the limited cargo space on passenger jetplanes becomes a nightmare. Many times, this results in Delta using partnered freight services like FedEx to get the skis to their passengers' final destination on time.
The business takes a hit to ensure regular operations. Delta also receives many confused passengers who have a hard time understanding baggage rules and struggle with the idea of being overcharged.
A recipe for bad customer experience. To counter these effects, Delta decided to come up with their own end-to-end baggage transfer service.
Many luggage transfer services already exist, but this was the first time a major airline was considering making it happen. Porter (what I decidedly called the service) intended to provide a baggage transfer option for customers resulting in effortless customer experience while saving/avoiding cost for Delta.
I designed the end-to-end experience of booking a pickup and receiving your luggage at your final destination.
Get the chance to have your luggage shipped while making your travel booking. Porter curates your travel details and allows you to select specific legs of travel where you'd like your baggage shipped before you head out to the airport.
Porter helps you find the right category for your bag, which aligns with Delta's baggage policy, so you can rest assured you won't be paying a penny more than you should be paying.
Porter lets you choose when you want to ship a specific item relative to your travel dates, when would you like to receive it at your destination and provides four different options to suit your needs:
Basic Usually ships 4 days in advance; Cheapest Option
Standard Usually ships 3 days in advance
Priority Usually ships 2 days in advance
Express Usually ships a day in advance
Porter allows users to make changes at every step. Have multiple bags with the same specifications? Use easy add or remove to adjust bag counts. Need to modify a different leg? Porter allows for customization right where you are in the process; there's no looking back.
Porter assumes you will be bringing something back if you have a return trip. When you create a shipment for your onwards journey, Porter automatically populates the item for your return journey, with the most suitable shipment category.
For non-standard items, Porter comes with a calculator that allows you to enter the weight and dimensions of the shipment and decides the category for your bag. Not able to understand why you see a specific charge? Porter comes with a thorough explanation of how it calculates the shipment category. Confusion is passé.
Once you've placed your order, you can always go back and modify it until your luggage has been picked up. Worried about your belongings? Track your shipment progress from right within the web app.
Every time there's an update relating to your order, we send you a push-notification through the Fly Delta app. So sit back and relax, you'll never miss an important update.
To understand how bags are handled behind the scenes, I signed up for a below-wing baggage tour at the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. One of the Delta agents responsible for landside concourse baggage drove me around and walked me through their process of sorting, tagging, and transferring bags to the right locations at the right time.
Next, I wanted to understand what customers thought about the current baggage check-in and pickup processes at the airports and whether a new end-to-end transfer service would garner interest. This led me to run an online survey.
The survey focussed on passengers' understanding of what qualifies as oversized luggage and the process of checking it in.
Finally, I looked at some of the services that already exist for luggage shipments like Lugless.com and Luggage Forward. Looking at these competitors helped me spot potential areas that Delta could leverage to provide a smoother and integrated baggage transfer experience for their passengers.
I got 76 survey responses over 4 days. An analysis of these responses revealed that most people wanted to know whether their baggage qualified as oversized much before they stepped into the airport. The survey also helped identify the top categories of oversized baggage that passengers were checking in.
An analysis of existing market competitors helped me look for areas of improvement in the experience by building in flexibility and providing assistance where passengers needed it most. Doing this also gave me foresight into where we could leverage Delta's existing infrastructure to ensure a smoother experience for our customers.
Delta has earned its passengers' trust through over 100 years of service, giving it an advantage over other freight services. Porter could leverage Delta's existing infrastructure to support real-time tracking of luggage. Delta also has passengers' payment and address information on record which could expedite order creation.
The airline has an around-the-clock network of flights connecting the entire world. This network could provide a more flexible experience for passengers allowing them to ship different bags on different days and still have them reach their final destination in time.
After synthesizing my research, I quickly mapped out the main user scenarios and their corresponding user flows to have a basic information architecture in place to work with.
I identified at three main scenarios. Creating a new order, tracking/updating an existing order, and coordinating the bag pickup/drop-off.
1. Create new order by selecting an existing trip.
2. For each leg, use the bag builder to populate each unique bag. Increment counter for same bags.
3. For each leg, enter shipment details (pickup and drop-off addresses and times.)
4. Confirm order and pay.
5. See order summary.
1. Open existing orders.
2. Select specific order.
3. Track shipment or update pickup/drop-off details.
1. Receive push notification update regarding shipment.
2. Navigate to order summary page via push notification.
Given the time constraint, I had to work directly in high-fidelity to come up with my concept prototype. Given the fact that most passengers wanted to know whether their baggage qualified as oversized while making the booking, I decided that porter could sit inside the Delta webapp.
Staying on the brand was key here. To ensure Porter felt like a Delta product, I relied on Delta's style guidelines for visual design.
Working in high-fidelity demanded some deep thought about the details and complexity of the experience.
To build an order, a user had to go through multiple steps and process lots of information. I used motion design to make it easier to follow the evolution of each order. This helped in communicating information digestibly through selective disclosure at each step with possibilities of making changes on the fly.
I used motion to communicate spatial and hierarchical relationships between elements. The 3 stepped expansion, contraction, and scrolling of the base cards while creating the shipment helps guide the user through the assisted setup and show the flow of information between different pages of the website.
You don't always get the opportunity to speak to your end-users. Sometimes these are busy people running around at the airport to get through check-in and security. Look for a workaround. The survey was a great way to get into the minds of Delta customers.
Sitting at my desk, I scanned some prior research done in the form of interviews on customers' experience with baggage at the airport. This helped me empathize with potential users for Porter by identifying their core needs and pain points.
Thinking through some of the high fidelity design decisions early on can be hard but it comes with its benefits. Some decisions can be significant in influencing the user's perception of the final design.
For Porter, I knew the user had to process a lot of information at each step. To ensure they don't get lost between pages and they don't have to keep reorienting themselves at each stage, I made use of subtle animations. These helped guide the user's eye through the process while diminishing the need for them to re-confirm the correctness of the information at the previous step.
The next step would have been to test the prototype with Delta customers. Given the time constraints, I didn't have the opportunity to see this phase of the project rollout.
Though I heavily relied on Delta's style guidelines, I would also have liked to ensure the project met web accessibility standards as part of the next steps in my process.
"Design by Time."