Designing a premium & distinct passenger experience

Designing a premium & distinct passenger experience


Challenges and opportunities

As air travel becomes more accessible, providers are looking to tailor services to different passenger needs. London’s Heathrow Airport wanted to refine their offer for premium travellers, both to ease the pressure on standard security operations and to provide a faster, more efficient service for business and premium passengers.

They asked Engine to completely remodel the premium passenger security experience, creating a distinct and appealing brand for the service. Engine developed and ran a full-scale prototype of the experience to ensure the supporting staff and environments were seamless and efficient, and delivered detailed service specifications to help it become a reality.

What we did

Engine began the project by exploring a range of premium services from other sectors, to inform what customers want from a premium experience and to inspire and guide the design work. We explored premium retail, healthcare and hospitality services, by interviewing providers from across the world. We researched with passengers to reveal the desires and priorities for premium travellers, such as rapidly getting through passenger search and security.

The research helped to generate lots of ideas for propositions that could create revenue while delighting and differentiating the experience for customers, and providing real value to both them and the airport. The new premium experience would also serve to ease some of the pressure on the operations of the airport’s security service, supporting the flow of both premium passengers and the majority of airport travellers.

Engine worked with the Heathrow team to refine the propositions down to a single premium experience concept. We then articulated how it would work across the people, environments and processes of delivering the experience, within the parameters of existing legal requirements for security technology and procedures.


The premium experience concept and propositions were validated with airport customers and presented internally to senior stakeholders in Heathrow. The next phase was signed off and Engine began a full-scale prototype of the service to test, develop and refine the experience and the environments and behaviours that would make it distinct and efficient.

In a temporary building at the airport, we built a mockup of the premium security space and worked with professional security staff and actors to run through different scenarios, arrangements of the elements and interactions with customers. The service prototype enabled Engine to understand the actual experience of the service: testing, iterating and refining to give the best results.

Once satisfied with the final concept, we produced detailed service specifications that outlined the levels of implementation, new staff roles, new communications, product touchpoints and value add parts of the experience. We detailed the new proposition and brand strategy, focusing on the quality of the experience and all the advantages of travelling premium, for the customers and the airport.

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