Could This One App Take The Headache Out Of International Air Travel?

An E.U.-sponsored concept for an app would aggregate flight information, tickets, routes through the airport, and public transit instructions.

International air travel is a stressful experience. The signage is in a different language. You can’t find your connecting gate. You aren’t quite sure how to navigate public transportation to get from the airport to your hotel.


Edenspiekermann, a design agency founded by typographer Erik Spiekermann, (and the brains behind this clever train signage system) has spent three years thinking about how to ease the many confusions of traveling through Europe. Sponsored by a European Union research initiative, Edenspiekermann developed a concept for an app that would hold your hand throughout an entire trip–from flight updates to directions to your next gate during a layover to public transportation and hotel information once you arrive.

“If you go from Tokyo to Frankfurt, and then you transfer to Amsterdam, you need about 11 apps to cater this experience,” says Sophie Dobber, a service designer in Edenspiekermann’s Amsterdam office. “There are so many different ones that it’s impossible.”

The concept, called the Info Connectivity System, would be “a one-stop shop that provides passengers with all the right travel information in the right context and the right language,” she tells Co.Design. It’s designed to be available on smartphones, portals within the airport, and seat-back screens on the plane. It would have all the information you need to navigate a particular airport–guiding you through luggage regulations, how to get wheelchair assistance, where toilets and food can be found, where your gate is. The app would always be on hand to tell you how much time you have left to get to your gate, and how far you have to walk to get there. No more arriving at your gate only to find yourself with time to kill and no food in sight.

After you reach your final destination, step-by-step public transportation instructions (including how to buy a ticket) help you find your way out of the airport. The app could even send an update to friends or family that you were on your way to the hotel.

Sound complicated? It is. Edenspiekermann is still figuring out who would potentially build and own this app, and whether it would even be possible to collect all the necessary data from airport operators, transit providers, and companies.

Logistics aside, it’s an enticing idea. Your smartphone could answer every question you could possibly have about your trip, eliminating the clutching fear of being lost in a foreign airport. Could this be the One App to rule travel?

About the author

Shaunacy Ferro is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, urban design and the sciences. She's on a lifelong quest for the perfect donut.