How a user’s experience can change in the blink of a … line

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Airports & UX, what a combo. I don’t know how many times I’ve got lost trying to navigate my way around them. Even wandering around, I still manage to go the wrong way or read a sign wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a pleasant encounter at any airport from arrival to departure, there’s always something to make me anxious, panic or nervous, and I really love flying!

My one bugbear is signage, bad signage that is. I don’t know how many times I’ve misread something, and the worst place to do it is an airport.

My UX nightmare

A few years ago I was running late for a flight and being in an absolute panic trying to find my gate. The airport was big and there was no signage anywhere. Finally I saw the gate sign, I looked up and...

F*ck.

Gate 4, is it left, or is it right. I had one shot to figure this out. I felt like Neo in the Matrix having to choose the red pill or the blue pill. What was my destiny, was I getting to my holiday destination, or was I waiting around the airport for the next flight?

(Picture: Warner Bros.)

Red pill or blue pill?

The red pill, or the blue pill. Gate 4, left or right. I chose to go right and I scooted down the long walkway, and as I approached the next sign and looked up there it was… “Gate 6-9”

F*ck. Again.

About turning I sprinted back though the walk way, dodging people like Neo dodging bullets. I got onto the plane and sat down. First the sigh of relief, then along came the anger, followed by the urge to rant and complain to customer services. What a terrible user experience! All that anxiety, the sheer sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, the fear in my mind I was going through at the thought of missing my flight.

All for what? The lack of one line…

One line would have solved this UX problem. One line would have taken away a world of anxiety for me. One line to make my terrible airport experience, a better one.


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