Enhancing Airport Travel Experience for Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes

Project Overview

In the United States, an estimated 1.4 million individuals live with type 1 diabetes, contributing to potentially 12.65-million-person trips annually. The complexities of air travel can pose unique challenges for this population, especially for those who rely on insulin therapy.

This project aimed to alleviate travel anxiety for this group by identifying service gaps and devising solutions to enhance the airport experience.

Service Design
Experience Design

Project Details

My Role :

Service Designer

Duration :

2023/04~2023/06 (10 weeks)

Tools :

Figma, Illustration

Team members

5 people

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Traveling through airports is particularly challenging for individuals with Type 1 diabetes due to the need for constant management of their condition, carrying necessary medical supplies, and dealing with potential routine disruptions.
The situation is exacerbated by a lack of understanding and sensitivity from airport staff. There's a need for improved processes and education to better accommodate and support these passengers, thus enhancing their airport experience."
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Our Research
Understand and Ideate



Participants :

US citizens with type 1 diabetes

Goal :

To understand the day-to-day experience of living with type 1 diabetes, identify critical pain points, and areas of improvement, and ask ourselves ‘How may design leverage it?’

Findings :

Effortless Travel Experience

Emotional Support

Improved Type 1 Diabetes Management

Financial challenges

Diet and Food Challenges


Participants :

3 Experts and 3 Users

Goal :

Understand their travel experiences and the challenges they face in life and work. Primarily, aim to grasp their ideal air travel experience, their past emotions and struggles, and how they have addressed these issues.

Findings :

The challenges of taking the medical devices through the airport security

Lack of awareness of type 1 diabetes

High price of insulin products

Continual stress from constant daily decision-making

User Quotes

Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes can exacerbate any prevailing stress associated with it, and make self-organization demanding.

“The average person with type 1 diabetes makes approximately 180 additional decisions per day, but many believe the actual number is higher.” - Authur
“My ideal experience, would not be any different than the rest of us.” - Christine
“It's 24 hours, everything that I do impacts diabetes.” - Anna

Key insights

Key insights we get from our primary research about Air travel

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Dietary Requirements

Finding suitable meals during travel is a challenge for individuals with Type 1 diabetes.

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Blood Sugar Levels

Travel can disrupt routine and lead to low or high blood sugar levels.

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Medical Supplies

Carrying and keeping medical supplies safe is a major concern.

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Staff Awareness

Airport staff often lack knowledge about Type 1 diabetes, causing difficulties for passengers.

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Security Checks

Going through security with medical devices like insulin pumps can be stressful and problematic.

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Health Checks

Monitoring blood sugar levels frequently during long travel durations is challenging.

Current Ecosystem Map

We use the ecosystem map to lay out the different actors, touchpoints, channels, and artifacts, providing a holistic view of the service landscape.  After creating the map, we found out that there are high design opportunities to enhance the relationship between airport staff and people with type 1 diabetes. Moreover, the security process in the airport is the key experience for them when air travel.

Current Service Blueprint

This current service blueprint details the airport journey for people with type 1 diabetes. We discovered that they experience stress when passing through security, worried that their medical supplies will attract attention and that their insulin pumps might lead to a pat-down or even removal requests.


The ideation process involved using the "Brain writing" tool to generate ideas, followed by affinity mapping to identify overlapping ideas. These ideas were then mapped onto a prioritization matrix based on high value, low effort, and low value, high effort.

Final solutions...


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The output of our approach is multi-layered. Our solution can be broken down into three main components; the awareness campaign, the certification training, and the passenger assistance kit. These phases would benefit the general public, airport security agencies and agents, and passengers respectively. Together, they address all major stakeholders and touch points along the air travel experience.

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Service Leverage Points Framework

To tackle higher-level problems effectively, we should break them down into smaller components and focus on incremental solutions. Addressing these issues in manageable steps will simplify both the management and measurement of outcomes, ultimately leading to a more significant impact.

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System of Synchronized Value Exchanges

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Project Roadmap

As we synthesized our findings, we consulted subject matter experts to validate our approach towards solutions. We had a series of interviews and feedback sessions that focused on different components of our proposal. These sessions were set up according to the areas of expertise of the participants, which included educators, medical professionals and air travel experts.

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Awareness Campaign

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1. Increase awareness

Raise awareness about Type 1 diabetes, its challenges, and the unique needs of individuals with Type 1 diabetes during air travel.

Educate and inform:
Provide accurate and helpful information about managing Type 1 diabetes while traveling, including tips, guidelines, and resources.

Enhance airport processes:
Improve airport processes and facilities to accommodate the needs of individuals with Type 1 diabetes, such as streamlined security procedures or designated areas for insulin administration.

02. Campaign Strategy Across Social Media Channels

1. Social Media Marketing
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / TikTok

2. Content Marketing
Blog / Video content / Infographics

3. Collaboration and Partnerships
Collaborate with diabetes advocacy organizations, healthcare professionals, influencers, and travel-related platforms to amplify the campaign message and reach a wider audience.

4. Email Marketing
Collaborate with diabetes advocacy organizations, healthcare professionals, influencers, and travel-related platforms to amplify the campaign message and reach a wider audience.

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03. Brand Identity

Create a campaign logo to increase awareness and public consciousness

Proposed Service Diagram

This proposed service diagram compares the current and proposed user journeys after implementing our suggestions and solutions. It highlights changes in the emotional journey and categorizes solutions into front-end, back-end, and support processes.

System Map

The system map provides a broader view of the entire ecosystem, including the airport and other facilities that may impact our proposed solution. It shows the information flow, passenger flow, and financial flow between each touch point.

Conclusion & Reflection


This was an academic project. However, if implemented, our solutions could positively impact 1.4 million people currently living with Type 1 Diabetes in the United States alone, translating into 12.65 million person trips a year. Moreover, our solutions could be broadened to cover additional health conditions, improving the air travel experience for many millions more.


In the course of this project, given the time constraints, it would have been beneficial to conduct more interviews with individuals having type 1 diabetes, as well as other key players such as airport personnel.
Observational visits to the airport to gather insights from staff experienced in assisting passengers with medical devices could also provide valuable perspectives. Additionally, implementing focus groups or co-creation workshops would be effective in testing and refining our ideas to ensure they align with users' needs.
While we have consulted several professionals about our concepts, creating prototypes for testing with airport users could further enhance the development and effectiveness of our solutions.

A need to conduct more interviews and prototype testing

Implement focus groups or co-creation workshops would be effective in testing and refining our ideas to ensure they align with users' needs.