United flies thousands of flights every day to 370 destinations around the world. At almost every airport we serve, kiosks are provided as an easy way to check-in or use other self-service features.
We operate 6 different types of our own kiosk hardware, and at 54 of the airports we serve, our application works with 6 different service providers on airport-owned and operated kiosks. At each location, our customers can not only check in and print boarding passes, but also view seats, purchase Economy Plus®, upgrade to first class, purchase extra MileagePlus® miles, or change to a different flight.
Since the hardware is slightly different between the types of kiosks, our challenge is to account for these differences, while making the experience as consistent as possible. We recently went through our first step in updating the software for all of our kiosks to improve your experience. This meant updating over 300 different pages and translating those pages into 12 supported languages. However, most customers will only see about 6 pages, and the check-in process is now quicker than before. The additional pages allow the kiosks to provide more service options for a variety of situations.
One of our main goals when we redesigned the kiosk was to improve the overall interaction that customers have, making it quicker and more intuitive, with an easy-to-use interface. When we started working on the design, we met with customers and co-workers at the airport to get their feedback and better understand their needs. We put that information to use as we simplified the page layouts and clarified the instructions and information provided on the screens.
Once the designs were final, our IT developers went to work updating the kiosk software. When our in-house team of analysts, developers and testers had verified that the system was ready, we deployed it to a small number of airports for beta testing. At each airport where we deployed the beta software, we sent a team member to observe and collect feedback from customers and co-workers.
After a week, we had identified some minor revisions that would smooth out the experience – things like changes to button locations and size, tweaks to the text, and adjustments to the graphics. Our team quickly made these changes for our next round of beta testing at a larger number of airports.
After many months of development and careful testing, our new design went live on all of our kiosks worldwide on October 22, 2013.
In the future, we’ll be making further updates to the underlying software to streamline the experience even more and speed up system response times. In the meantime, if you have experienced the new look, please feel free to share your thoughts below.
See you at the airport!
Steve Orr is the Senior Manager of Travel Management in the eCommerce department at United. He has been with United for 25 years, working with Inflight Entertainment and eCommerce for the past 18. When Steve has some time off, he and his family love escaping to the wilds of the Northwest.