In order to implement the solution we decided to research the two aspects of the
problem we were tackling: motivating users to interact with each other and increasing
accessibility to information. We decided to conduct interviews and surveys to understand
users’ thoughts, feelings, and actions while traveling. We also performed an ethnographic
study by observing the process of boarding at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport.
A large amount of information collected from this part of our research confirmed our initial
hypothesis about wait times at the airport. We found that wait times ranged from 15 minutes
to a few hours depending on the type of flight it was (i.e. domestic or international). Furthermore,
we found that the perceived wait time was much longer than the actual wait time. We also found that
the longest period of waiting at any point in the airport experience is at the gate after
completing check-in and security. We found that a majority of travelers prefer to complete all
the pre-boarding procedures as soon as possible therefore allowing them to relax at the gate before
boarding. The general atmosphere at security and check-in was found to be tense as travelers were
concerned about making it to their gate on time to board their flights. Therefore, they were more
intent on focusing on their surroundings during these times.
Another aspect we found interesting was how people interacted with each other at airports. A large
number of people kept to themselves. At the gate, they used their mobile devices either for work,
to check and respond to email or for entertainment such as to play a game or access social media.
Very few people attempted to interact with the people around them. If a person chose to interact
with other people at the airport, it was because they found to have something in common with them
and therefore had a point of discussion such as both parties bemoaning a delayed flight.