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New Feature on Virgin America's app allows Passengers to Order Food and Access In-Flight Entertainment. 

Duration & Project Type: 2 weeks working collaboratively with a team of 3 members. This was a student project.

Tools:  Invision, Sketch, Google Forms, Pen, Paper, Markers




  • User Research
  • Persona Creation, User Flows
  • Competitive and Comparative Analysis
  • Prototyping
  • Usability Testing
  • Stakeholder Presentation



Virgin America wants to incorporate a new in-flight services feature which allows customers to order food and access entertainment on its existing app. For purposes of this project, Virgin America does not currently have in-flight entertainment or services on their flights. 



Passengers are frustrated by a lack of inflight entertainment and services on flights. Through our research, the major pain point on flights was a lack of entertainment and food/beverage options. Through interviews, we discovered that many people stopped flying with certain airlines because of a lack of options. 




Conducting Research to Understand Our Users’ Needs and Frustrations

Through our research, we were able to obtain information about user’s flying patterns and understand how they stay entertained on flights. By understanding user experiences, we could find a way to enhance the airline experience and address passenger’s pain points. 

Conducting research at the airport


Contextual Inquiry and User Interviews

While conducting research at the Virgin America terminal, we uncovered a major problem — most people do not use an app. We found that users did not feel that the app is contributing to their flight experience. 



Key Findings from User Research


Which of the following in-flight entertainment options do you use?


Passengers need to be able to easily navigate through entertainment options

 During our research, we concluded that the most popular features under in-flight entertainment are movies and TV shows. When asked about their viewing habits, most people stated that they search for movies and TV shows by latest releases, most popular or by genre. Those we interviewed also stated that personalizing categories based on their viewing history helped them quickly locate something to watch and make the experience feel more personalized.


How Important are "in flight entertainment options" to you?



Passengers were often frustrated on flights with a lack of in-flight entertainment

 Some passengers even stated that they are unlikely to fly with certain airlines and stated that the lack of entertainment contributed to a bad flight experience. Through user research, we found that in-flight entertainment was important to 76% of the people.



How Important are Meal Options to You?


narrow time window available to order food and beverages and lack of transparency for options.

65% of people stated that knowing what the food options were on a flight as important. Those we interviewed voiced their frustrations of having to search for a flight attendant to place their orders. From user research, many people stated that they are reluctant to purchase food on a plane because they are uncertain of the options available and the price of the items.


Synthesizing Research to Figure Out How to Design With the Users in Mind

Through user research, we were able to obtain information on a variety of passengers. We were able to synthesize the data into 3 main personas whom represent the majority of the users.

Sarah is a working mother who often travels with her children. Often times, her children can be difficult to travel with if they are hungry or bored.

Hendrix is a businessman who travels for work. He often works during flights and is frustrated when he is distracted by other passengers. Since he is always on the go, he needs efficient services.

Robert is a student who travels home during breaks. During the school year, he does not have time to catch up on the latest shows and movies. He looks forward to relaxing on his flight after a hectic school year.


Primary Persona

Through the persona overview, Sarah has the highest level of need. She is our primary persona because she represents the majority of the people we interviewed.

From conducting user research, a majority of people travel primarily for leisure with family and friends, just like Sarah. To understand Sarah’s needs, we have drawn out her story.


Understanding Our Competitors to Differentiate Our Product

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No competitors had the same features

None of the competitors’ apps had a feature which allowed passengers to access in-flight entertainment or order food.


Understanding Patterns on How to Design Entertainment Options

Netflix’s categorization of its content inspired the design for the entertainment section of the app due to its easy navigation and personalization. Through research, we observed that users were able to navigate through options efficiently. 


Inspiration for the Food Options

UberEats’  layout displays prominent photos of various food items while displaying essential information such as the price and item description. In addition, customers are provided with an approximate wait time after placing their orders.


Creating Prototypes and Usability Testing


After gaining a holistic view to both the business need and user needs we collaborated as a team to create user flows to figure out all the steps a user has to take to achieve the specified tasks. It is essential for us to understand the user's journey to build a product for them. We built an early prototype to test the entertainment and food/beverage options.


                           How Sarah picks a movie/TV show



                                                            How Sarah orders food


Key Insights & Iterations from Usability Testing

Version 1 vs. Version 3

Version 1 vs. Version 3

The addition of a shopping cart encouraged shoppers to purchase multiple items.

Through the usability tests, we learned that adding a shopping cart was essential. During the beginning rounds, users would try to purchase multiple items but would have to complete a new transaction each time. To accommodate users’ shopping habits and to increase revenue for the airline, a shopping cart was added to later prototypes.


Version 1 vs. Version 3

Version 1 vs. Version 3


Simplifying the categories allowed for easier navigation

Another key finding was that users were overwhelmed by the number of choices in the early rounds of tests. To simplify the app, we narrowed down 5 categories to just 2 simple categories. In the earlier versions, the 5 categories were broken down to even more subcategories which caused confusion for userss.



Create a feature that enhances flight experience by allowing passengers to easily access in-flight entertainment and food & beverage options.

After a passenger has checked-in to their flight, he/she will receive push notifications to indicate when they can access the in-flight features. Through usability testing, we found that most users were frustrated when they were unable to easily navigate through entertainment options. Through research, we also discovered that most users wanted to be able to order food/beverages at their convenience. Majority of users stated that they felt restricted by a narrow time window and wanted to see the options before ordering.  


How does this meet the users' needs?

Sarah is able to navigate through entertainment and food/beverage options for her children. She is able to order food/beverages without having to leave her children unattended. She is also able to order outside of a narrow window to accommodate for her children's unpredictable behaviors.

Hendrix is able to see what food options are available before getting onto the flight. Since he is constantly on the go, he doesn't always have have time to grab food before his flight. In addition, Hendrix is able to work on his flight because children and other passengers are entertained and are less likely to distract him.

Robert is able to navigate through the movie and TV show options by sorting them by popularity, rating or recent. By providing him with a variety of options, he is able to relax after a stressful week at school.


Next Steps

Increase Options for In-flight Services

We hope to increase the number of entertainment options to include books, magazines and travel guides. From our user research, we found other features that would provide users with a positive flight experience but we were only able to focus on the essential features due to MVP. 

Food Ratings and Reviews

From evaluating how often people currently rely on reviews to make their food-related decisions. We may want to explore this feature to see if this would help passengers make a decision.

Test Higher Fidelity Prototypes on Flights

Observing how people actually use the app on a flight could provide us with valuable insights. This would allow us to see how they interact with the product.