Case Study: KLM — ‘Geotainment’ Inflight Mobile App

My third design project for the General Assembly User Experience Design Immersive course was a group project shared with fellow students Anthea Jackson and Gaetan Cotton. Our hypothetical client was KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, flag carrier airline for the Netherlands. Founded in 1919 it’s the longest running airline in the world still operating under its original name.

Client Brief

Competitive Analysis

User Research

An interview script formed the core of interviews carried out by all three members of our team to make sure that when combined our data would be as useful as possible. Interviewees were very happy to share their flying experiences and a large quantity of rich qualitative information was gathered.

An affinity map of the data distilled key findings. Quality of dining and attendant services were brand judgement criteria. Ability for users to choose from a good selection of films was considered important but a customer expectation rather than a differentiating factor. Shopping was considered unimportant to all our users.

An unexpected finding was that the current location map displayed on either seat back screens or on large shared viewing screens is an extremely valuable resource for a majority of users. Users told us that as they lost track of all the time zones they were passing through and the geography that they were passing over and used it frequently to orientate themselves in time space as well as to help calibrate themselves to their destination time zone. Users also told us of their frustrations with the maps services they had used inflight, citing poor, even cursory information communication as a norm. When maps were not present and available users said they were disappointed. The physical disjuncture they felt with the world below compounded this sentiment.

A related pain point was found in the timing of meals, being landmarks in users’ normal daily schedules around which they plan their time, were no longer predictable or a matter of personal choice and their timings were perceived as both frustratingly arbitrary and mysterious.

A key desire of users was to discover more about their destination during their journey. Although some users planned their journey in advance many wished to use the time during the flight to investigate their destination further although mistrusted inflight magazines’ content due to the quantity of advertising.

Common pain points were the unreliable standard of hardware and software elements of the current inflight digital service systems from which moving image, maps, music and other entertainment could be accessed.

Users said that what they needed to feel comfortable and orientated was time at both home and destination, remaining flight time, current location and when the next meal is being served.


Joyce: the curious explorer
She loves to travel and find out about the world.

Steve: the reluctant traveller
He just wants to the time to pass as quickly as possible, and want’s entertainment options.

Anne: the family traveller
She wants to relish every moment and she doesn’t mind passing time travelling as it’s a rare time in her life when she can relax with her daughter.

As she was closest in outlook to the majority of the users we interviewed, our team chose Joyce as our primary persona.



Design Principles

1. Physiological / sustenance — the app must inform users when food is to be provided

2. Safety / orientation — provided in the basics of the map feature

3. Sharing — Joyce’s discoveries can be communicated via social media

4. Esteem — learning about the world below as a value added feature of the map

5. Discover: Joyce fulfils natural inclination for adventure, curiosity and inspiration

Feature Prioritisation & Ideation

  • Timeline — displays how long left, next meal, time at destination
  • Geotainment — a fun and informative maps feature integrated with the inflight entertainment through curated contextual links to films and music. The geotainment feature is a portal to explore the world from which Joyce can save discoveries and destination inspiration offline for use during her current trip when connectivity isn’t guaranteed to share and to inspire future holidays. The latter would certainly be a business opportunity for this sector.

Paper Prototype & Testing

The contextual regional film and music feature was given too much prominence and confused users, being mistaken instead for general navigation. Calls to action were not noticed, for example the button to go direct to the destination information screen, and we worked on making these affordances to recognise the ‘recognition not recall’ heuristic in further prototyping. We also organised the site map and moved some features and services on different screens.

Deliverable Prototype

The digital prototype can be found here.

Next steps

  • Virtual reality or augmented reality, and increasing other interactive functionality, e.g. kids version that could be very playful.
  • Full service integration, with a subtle location based twist, e.g. some featured movie recommendations based on location or destination.
  • Development into the level of destination information that would be desirable, moving beyond cultural and need to know info to recommendations.