A Health Passport for Pandemic Air Travel
In an interaction design course last spring, I worked on a personal project studying the problem space of air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic and the influence of digital health apps that provide verification of health documents such as vaccinations or PCR/antigen test results. Students were prompted to design a product ecosystem that included multiple touchpoints across multiple channels to support users in pursuit of some practical goal. I chose to prototype a product ecosystem around a health passport app called “GO Health Pass” that streamlines health documentation for American travelers flying abroad.
Time Frame5 weeks
ObjectiveHow might health apps integrate with existing airline health safety protocols to make air travel more efficient and convenient, while reducing traveler anxiety?
ResearchI approached this project with three distinct methods of research:
diary study, structured interviews, competitive usability evaluation.
Diary study - I recruited a traveler flying domestically to document his experience from check-in to arrival at his destination, in an effort to understand what it’s like to fly during the pandemic. Through his pictures, videos, notes and interviews, I gained a thorough understanding of current airline health safety protocols.
Structured interviews - I conducted additional interviews with several travelers that recently flew overseas to compare their experiences. These interviews clarified differences in health document verification between domestic and international travel, as well as the pain points unique to air travel abroad. These interviews also gave me a lot of insight into the emotional state and behavior of the travelers.
Competitive usability evaluation - With the proliferation of “vaccine passports” on the market and in the news, it was important to survey these health apps. I studied about seven health apps that were in development or had launched at the time to understand their functionality. I gathered a small group of participants to review screenshots of each app and offer their feedback on the design.
ResultMy research led to a few insights
International travel is especially stressful for travelers. Participants expressed a lack of clarity about health documentation requirements from one country to another.
The check-in process for flights is tedious and redundant. Presenting necessary health documentation to airline employees for verification means more time standing in a line at the airport.
Physical products still have a place alongside digital products. Some participants expressed a desire for systems that allow flexibility to switch between the physical and the digital.
My project ultimately consisted of three components:
GO Health Pass app
The app’s primary function is to store vaccination records and PCR/ antigen test results that can be quickly recalled and verified by scanning an embedded QR code. The app also allows the user to save their travel plans and view the latest health safety requirements for their destination country. Lastly, the app stores the user’s contact information, which can be automatically transmitted to fulfill airline contact tracing requirements.
Boarding pass badge
I designed a GO Health Pass icon that would appear on a passenger’s boarding pass after check-in. A physical artifact like this could serve as a substitute for the digital app and a time-saver during any subsequent interactions with airline or airport staff.
I conceptualized how a target user might discover the GO Health Pass on a social media platform like Instagram and created a sample marketing video.