Last week I was in Florida and my flight back was on a horrible travel day. Storms had closed Atlanta airport for a long time. This meant that my flight was overbooked and so the boarding process was quite competitive as everyone tried to get overhead bin space before it all filled up.
By the time I boarded, about half of the bins were full. I was so worried I’d have to check my bag!
But then I spotted a bin that I realized would fit my bag, if I rearranged some of the other items. So, I quickly moved around a few other bags and got my bag in.
A few people commented about how efficient I was and I thought to myself “wasn’t re-arranging the bags the logical thing to do?!”
It was obvious to me that if I moved things around, my bag would fit. But to others, it wasn’t so clear.
This got me thinking, how could airlines use design to get people to put their luggage in the correct way?
Why don’t overhead bins have little lines or icons or diagrams to indicate which way your bags should go — wheels facing back or wheels facing sideways? It seems pretty simple. This would also save flight attendants a ton of time because they wouldn’t have to give instructions and then correct misplaced bags.
I don’t know if any airlines do this, but I tweeted Delta to tell them my idea. So if you see overhead bins with icons or arrows in the future, you know who gave them the idea!
This problem of people putting their bags in the overhead bins incorrectly is an example of what I call “problem spotting”.
So many user experience designers ask me how they can get more practice and I always tell them that they need to get better at spotting and solving problems around them.
If I was looking for a job right now, I would actually probably take that problem of the overhead bins and turn it into a nice little case study.
What problems have you spotted recently? Tell me in the comments section below.
Next time you spot a problem, don’t complain about it. Write it down and use it as a way to practice the act of actually solving problems. This would make for a great team activity as well!