Wayfinding at MCO

I was in Florida earlier this year to visit my parents, and this time I remembered to take pictures of the wayfinding at the Orlando (MCO) airport. Boy, it is badly done!

I usually fly American, and their app provides you with a baggage claim number to go to to collect your bags.  But when you deplane, your options are only A or B.  Hmmmm …. what to choose?  

Here is a picture of the signage as my family walks past:


On the way to the baggage claim area there is one sign that explains the letters and numbers.  But wait, those are the floors, not the baggage claim numbers!  So, unless you can make sense of this mess of this sign (which I think is intended to indicate which airlines map to which letters) you are still on your own figuring out how your baggage claim number maps to the letters.


Here, the letters are linked to specific airline names in a less cluttered format, so by this point you have a better sense if you are headed in the right direction or not:


In the baggage claim area, things appear to be more clear.  At least the letters, the airline names, and baggage claim numbers appear together:

IMG_0532.jpgThough, if it turns out you should have picked A and you picked B, it’s not clear what you would do at that point …

Thankfully, when you get outside for pickup, the baggage claim number and the pick-up numbers match!


What would I do to fix this?  Well, there is always more to these problems than meets the eye, so my suggestions may be horribly oversimplified and naive.  I’ll give it a go anyways!  For the airport, there are two separate baggage claim areas, so I can see why the A / B are needed.  But somehow the mapping of A / B to airlines and baggage claim areas needs to be way more clear.  It’s not clear whether more signage, better signage, or better place signage might help.  For the airline, they could modify the mobile app to include the A / B designation before the baggage claim number.  That seems like it would be the easiest fix – at least for people like me that are consistent users of their mobile app.  And of course, there are service / people related fixes, like having the flight attendants provide the letter and the baggage claim area number when you deplane.

However, as wrote about in this post called Lessons Learned at the Lost & Found, ultimately the challenge with airports is that there are multiple stakeholders that don’t necessarily work well together to deliver a better customer experience.  These types of complex experiences are ripe for a major overhaul!  If you want to learn about one company tackling airport problems on this scale, you might enjoy the closing keynote from the 2017 Design Operations Summit called Getting Giants to Dance.

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