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InterQ used biometrics and qualitative research to show where passengers feel the most stress when flying


Delta Air Lines, one of the largest and most respected airlines, knew from quantitative passenger surveys that fliers reported feeling stressed during their airline journeys. However, because Delta was relying on quantitative, post-flight surveys, they didn’t have in-the-moment qualitative feedback pinpointing exactly where and why passengers feel stress when at the airport and on the plane. The Delta Insights team commissioned a study to find out.


InterQ designed a qualitative study with biometrics and in-the-moment feedback. First, passengers used a mobile ethnography app to check in during their flying journey and report where they were feeling stress and which parts of the journey felt easy. On the mobile ethnography app, passengers were prompted to upload short video responses throughout their flight journey – from the time they left their homes to the time they landed. This allowed InterQ to collect their feelings about stress, as it was occurring.

Second, to corroborate the passengers’ verbal feedback, passengers wore Fitbits to track their heartrates. When passengers were checking in and sharing their verbal feedback about their journeys, they also looked at their Fitbits and recorded on the mobile ethnography app their heartrates. (An elevated heartrate indicates stress.) This two-step approach, of verbal feedback and biometric heartrate monitoring, gave the InterQ team on-the-ground input about where and how much stress passengers felt during the travel journey.

Prior to the flight day, passengers shared baseline results of their heartrates so that InterQ could track stress spikes when they flew.


InterQ’s research gave Delta surprising insights into passenger stress points that were unanticipated. As a result, Delta is developing systematic changes to help passengers feel more at ease during their whole flying journey. The CEO of Delta Airlines, Ed Bastian, presented insights from InterQ’s research at CES 2020. Delta is using research from InterQ and from their internal resources to create technological breakthroughs that will improve the whole passenger flying journey, from arriving at the airport, to bag retrieval.