TSA: Identifying Design Opportunities

This was a one week exercise to immerse ourselves in the Pittsburgh International Airport TSA. The assignment was to discover insights and suggest ways to redesign the TSA experience.

One of the valuable insights from this exercise was that the TSA can be an emotional touchpoint in a passenger’s travel experience. How do we design practically yet address emotional issues? The TSA experience has the potential to be a moment when loved ones say goodbye to each other. How is this characteristic of the situation supported or not supported?

My team was asked to define “flow” in this context. Efficiency is certainly an issue. However, from the standpoint of passengers and their families/friends, flow is an experience.

We relied on directed storytelling (sharing our personal experiences with the TSA) and airport observations. We concluded that there are three main stakeholders: TSA workers, passengers, and loved ones. These three have distinct needs.

From these needs, we derived three main design principles: help TSA workers communicate to passengers, help passengers feel in control of their experience, and help passengers and loved ones say goodbye.

Concept cards were used to demonstrate possible solutions and shared them with our class.