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Delta Airlines (Concept)

Concept review for Delta Airlines feature: ordering food and drink in-flight through the iOS app


Delta Airlines

Concept for In-flight Features In-App

The prompt for this concept project was to come up with features in the current Delta mobile app that allowed users to do in-flight tasks (food & drink, entertainment, or calling a flight attendant, etc.) on the actually application while onboard. Timeline: 2 weeks




  • Sketch and InVision for digital prototype

  • Marvel POP for paper prototype

  • Google apps for documentation and sharing

My Role

  • UX Designer

  • Information architecture

  • Interaction design and consistency with current app

  • User research and synthesis

  • Ideation


cass, if you could do it all over again, would you do things differently?
— myself, reflecting on this project

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The Challenges


Balancing user needs and wants with constraints

Most of the pain points that came out of user interviews were out of scope. Users wanted to discuss the lack of physical space, the feeling of being rushed from boarding the plane to exiting the plane, the quality, quantity, and price of meals that were provided, and the inconvenience and aisle-blocking of the snack cart. We could not fix those things with feature additions to Delta's existing app.


What I would have done differently

(Our design was pretty awesome. It would help control food waste, give the airline better inventory control, and let users have more control of their food & drink experiences in-flight. I would love to use it, and so would the users we spoke to. I am proud of the design we came up with, regardless.)

  • Talk to all stakeholders. We committed design sin--we didn't consider every side, we only considered the users'. I know what you're thinking. 
Wait, isn't that what designers do? Think of the users?

Yes, of course. However, we missed one important stakeholder: the flight attendants. We designed features that would require their labor, but we didn't consult any of them in our research or usability studies. Because of this, we missed some things regarding feasibility. We thought about Delta as a company, but not the employees.

  • Focus on MVP. We tried to do too much at once. We wanted to design features that allowed you to order food pre-flight and in-flight. I would have chosen one, rather than juggle two roads that we thought would go together.





Users are unhappy with a few things about their experiences with food and drink in-flight: the information available about the offerings, the options for ordering, and the nutritional value of the offerings. Additionally, Users need the necessary information and options to be able to plan better, as well as order the food they want.



We believe that by creating an in-app, flight-specific menu for reserving food items pre-flight or ordering on-demand onboard for users, we will achieve a higher demand for in-flight dining and better inventory control. We will know this to be true when we compare the amount of food sold and percentage of food reserved prior to and after the implementation of this application feature.



Our Process

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As I mentioned, we should've spoken to more stakeholders. However, we did speak to enough potential users during the interviews stage to form proto-personas. 

Our discussion guide focused on general technological habits and mobile literacy, general flying habits and familiarity with Delta, and experienced with in-flight services. We also collected demographic and personal information, such as age, gender, familial and marital status, and occupation. This helped us understand the type of users who would actually use the app and why.

Joyce Reveron: the business traveller who is frustrated by in-flight processes and flies alone.

Vernon Thomas: the personal traveller who is frustrated by the lack of and/or accuracy of information about in-flight services available and flies with family.



juggling task optimization and brand adherence

I worked on the information architecture of the app, making sure the categorizations we created in our screens made sense and were navigable.

Our goal was clear--make sure all designs, current and new, optimize task-based activities. The current app struggles in its mobile translation. It is visually cluttered and is not easily navigable.

Because we didn’t redesign the entire app, we had to make sure our designs fit cleanly within the existing structure. I studied Delta’s design decisions, such as using light blue links for navigational tasks and red and grey buttons for transactional tasks, and made sure we incorporated that into our wireframes to stay on brand.

I created an app map in which our design is in blue, and Delta’s existing structure is in grey. I used red arrows to represent the users’ happy path flow through our screens.

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Tasks & final 

We gave users tasks with different subtasks. The general tasks were to purchase a miso ginger chicken wrap, find out what complimentary items were being offered, and give feedback about the menu.

Regarding task completion, users had no trouble with the flow of the site, as we made sure to use affordances that made sense (e.g., carets when the screen was pushing left) and clear language (e.g., "reserve items" when it was pre-flight ordering and "request items" when it was in-flight ordering), as well as decluttered the current app to make sure nothing extra got in the way of the users' tasks.

It was some of the aspects of the visual design that gave users trouble. 

  • Checkboxes: they were too small, and users couldn't click the label to choose the item.
  • Nutritional key: the text and icons were too hard to read, as they were also very small.
  • Suggestion link: the link wasn't in places the users expected.


We rectified most of these issues. In v.2, we need to make the text and checkboxes larger, still. Below is an example of the iterations we made on one screen. Check it out, and play with the prototype!

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What I Learned


Remember who matters

Though we tried to keep the brand in mind and think about their goals, we didn't consult the actual people who would be affected most by these designs--the flight attendants and people who worked directly on the planes. We thought about Delta as a company, but not the employees.


Always refer back

...to the client brief, the problem, and the target users. The goal is always to solve an actual problem for the actual people who need it.


Check-ins are a must

Don't assume your teammates are thinking or feeling the same ways as you are about any part of the project, large or small.

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Thanks, team.