Have you ever been on a plane ride and had a parched mouth, dry throat, and cracked lips despite slathering yourself in chapstick? Or had to sit in a tiny, cramped seat immobile for hours on end as your legs went numb? Or perhaps felt terribly guilty for having to call your busy flight attendant three times just to get a small cup of water? Flights can be anything from scary to annoying to really wonderful and exciting experiences, and we want to make sure that anyone flying with American Airlines can do so happy, healthy, and hydrated!
Furthermore, in an era of iPhones, Apple watches, Fitbits, and a billion other devices that remind us daily to of our healthy habits, why not use this technology for healthier flights and happier passengers? Especially as we are all looking to stay healthy by making good choices during the COVID pandemic (please do!), setting a trend for wellness that will likely extend well into the future.
So, with this beginning pop of inspiration, read on to discover our journey!
Our Project + What it does
We believe that American Airlines can become THE good, healthy choice for customers with just a few health conscious additions to their existing app. Low humidity in pressurized plane cabins can cause dehydration, while increased risk for conditions such as deep vein thrombosis can result from being sedentary on flights. Our goal for these app additions is to encourage passengers to hydrate and stay mobile.
So how does our app do this?
We have a hydration tracker where passengers can input their water intake throughout the flight to reach the recommended amount for that particular flight time. (with fun bonus confetti to cheer you on!) Furthermore, notifications will help remind you to stay hydrated throughout your flight. We have an airplane friendly exercise page with tutorials built in so passengers can easily exercise right from their seats or as they wait in line for the restroom. Each exercise has a demonstrative diagram, description of movement, and can be done either seated or standing in the limited space of an airplane! Additionally, a more stream-lined method of communication with flight attendants through the app will provide better service while saving flight attendants many trips down the aisle to investigate lit call buttons. This also cuts down on person-to-person contact, an important factor during the pandemic! (Of course we also have the Attendants' version of the app that brings them the same health factors along with their side of communication)
Along with the health aspect of our app, we have some basic features that wrap everything together into one cohesive bundle of everything-you'll-need-on-a-plane-ride. This includes a login that will fetch all the need information from your flight number, a live-updating map of your trip route, and all your flight details in one place! Altogether, every aspect of our app is designed to match cohesively with the current American Airlines' style guide, branding, and existing app in a simple, clean, and beautiful manner with a bit of fun from our automatically rotating backgrounds!
Overall, we hope that passengers will leave the plane healthy, hydrated, and happier than ever that they flew American.
Design Thinking and UI/UX
We used a lot of the Design Thinking Process to get to where we ended up.
First, we empathized, doing a lot of contextual research on American Airlines and trying to begin sniffing down a problem space for us to solve. We realized that a lot of us were out of touch from the flying experience (RIP traveling due to COVID), so we wrote a Moderator's Guide of both qualitative and quantitative questions to really dig out some good information. We then performed interviews with those who had recently travelled, asking all kinds of questions about their experiences. From that data, we were able to begin to define the problem that we wanted to solve (aka the health factor of air travelling that made so many people reluctant/dislike it!). From there we ideated on what features and formats our solution could be, with some fun ideas like a bathroom queue or robot attendants popping up. We narrowed down our key features based on the time constraints we were under, and created some quick sketches and wireframes for the layout and look of our app. Then, we created a Figma prototype (which went through soooo many iterations and sample screens to get the perfect look) and began to code!
How we built it
We used Firebase's Realtime Database for synchronized passenger to crew member communication, Apple's new SwiftUI for a powerful iOS interface, and FlightView's website for live flight maps (ugh, asynchronous API calls and database listeners >.<)
Challenges we ran into
We wanted to create a fifth tab for a sleep tracker that could help combat jet-lag, yet ran into many data visualization difficulties and time constraints. Though we didn't manage to complete it in our 24 hours, it is a feature that is still in our hearts!
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Our app is fully functional with an applicated design that stayed true to the designs drawn up by our UI/UX designer! The designs truly feel as if they belong to American Airlines and the styling is matched to the Figma mockup down to the pixel. Good job on managing our time well enough to not skimp out on the pretty formatting, animations, and spacing! Go team!
What we learned
When it comes to the classic "coffee or tea?" question on airlines, the answer is always tea.
What's next for FlightCare
Perhaps we will be one day have the time to code up our prodigal son, the sleep tab, into the app. Other fun and potentially useful ideas that we did not have time to implement include a bathroom queue function (heck yeah!) and a offline local mini game that could be played with all the passengers of the plane.