We've all been there. Strapped into your seat, readying yourself for a 12-hour marathon of determination to disembark on the other side of the world. And then it begins. The baby in the next aisle starts wailing. Before the evil side-eye starts boring holes of hate into the back of the seat of the offending parents, have you ever considered the trials a family with young children have to endure in order to get on the plane?
RKS recently released a service design concept, cAir, that hopes to ease the burden of air travel for families. The project is a derivative outcome from a workshop conducted by RKS at the 2010 IxDA Conference where interaction designers were challenged to conceptualize a service design venture that would inspire the air travel industry to change how services are delivered to traveling families. In a climate of increased fare costs, slashed amenities and general disastisfaction with the air travel experience, the team looked at the success of consumer-centric airlines like Southwest as a hint that investing in the user can be rewarding for both travelers and airlines.
Families, in particular, are an oft over-looked segment of the flying population. By redesigning their experience, perhaps the general quality of all travelers could be improved. After interviewing and shadowing passengers, RKS generated a service design blueprint based on six key touchpoints of the in-flight experience: entertainment, ambience, food, seats, lavatory and storage.
Checkin for adults and children with toy rental options and wayfinding services available.
- Rent-A-Toy is a toy rental service concept focused on providing hassle-free entertainment to children during the flight. The toy is returned at the end of the trip or upon arrival.
- Sound Curtains allow instant privacy at the passenger's seat, enabling parents to soothe or nurse a crying infant away from view.
- Nutrient cAir Service provides a variety of familiar, nutritious, allergen-free food choices for kids as well as USB bottle warmers and personal fridge within reach.
- Configurable Seats can adjust to accommodate children of all sizes while aisle partitions create a mini-play zone for toddlers and small kids.
- Diaper Friendly Lavatories are large enough to fit parent and multiple children for easy diaper change. A special sink is sized for a child's height and a waiting area outside the restroom lets kids play till their turn.
- Layered Storage offers easy-to-reach storage compartments overhead and underneath the seat that is accessible throughout the flight.
Along with changes during the inflight experience, the cAir concept also embodies a branding extension that highlights the core values of "relax, entertain, nurture." Wayfinding, easy flight checkin, family waiting rooms and cAir game apps to help deliver a 360-traveling experience from travel planning to arrival. See the above video for more info or check out the dedicated microsite.