Trevor Curtis

American Airlines Seat Map

The seat map experience for American Airlines

— PROJECT NAME

American Airlines Seat Map


— ROLE

User Experience

User Research

Interface Design

Development Support

WAI-ARIA Implementation


— DATE

2016-2019

I completed a new seat map experience for American Airline’s customer booking flow, which is still in use today by millions of customers weekly.


Over a period of three years I provided design support for the addition of new products to the seat map, as well as enhanced messaging.


American experienced an immediate 5% increase in premium seat sales when the new design launched in 2016, and several additions generated even more revenue through 2019.

Extra vertical spacing between seats makes it easy to see which seats have more legroom

Comprehensive specifications were given to developers to produce a visual seat map for each plane using custom XML definitions

A variety of foreign currencies and feature text were tested at the design stage so the seat map would work for a worldwide audience

When I began experience design work at American Airlines, my first project was to finish the design for an improved seat map experience in the booking flow of aa.com.


I was responsible for creating prototypes, final visual designs, conducting user testing, and providing development support for the seat map over a three year period.


I helped perform several user tests with Elite customers at the DFW International Airport to measure task-based efficiency and to gather visual feedback on the new design.

The American Airlines seat map before 2016

The previous seat map relied on a right-hand legend with tiles that had small star ratings, so it was very difficult for customers to understand what type of seat they were purchasing without constantly referring to the legend on the right-hand side.


The previous seat map also did not clearly indicate your running total if multiple seats were selected.



The new seat map is clear, informative, and has a simple step-based path to follow

The new map makes use of color-coded tiles, with the seat prices written inside the tiles, to clearly show which seats have premium features. Extra vertical spacing also indicates which seats have additional legroom.


In 2017 the seat map was enhanced with accessibility features for blind and visually-impaired users to allow for keyboard navigation and spoken text using screen readers. The new design meets WCAG 2.0 Level AA accessibility standards as mandated by the FAA. Customers can navigate the seat map using the keyboard only through the use of WAI-ARIA tags and alternate text.


New marketing banners were added in 2019 to further market premium seats, highlighting extra legroom, preferred boarding, and complimentary drinks. During a live A/B test lasting 30 days, the new banners generated an additional $300,000 in premium seat sales. The banners were approved for permanent display in the seat map and are now a prominent part of the seat map experience.