American Airlines App for Apple Watch

Project Information

We had to redefine the purpose of the app for this wearable. It couldn’t be the entire AA App just reduced in size. It had to transform into a utility-based app. A true day-of-flight app. We created a matrix of data points plotted to specific times and locations in relation to a travelers journey. It was a combination of user-journey and data matrix. We focused on how to deliver the information to people rather than have them search for it. The result is an extremely slim app that delivers key bits of data to the user exactly when they need it.

AppAmerican Airlines
TagsUser-experience, interface design, wearables, watch, app

Interesting Discoveries

In the process of designing and building the AA App for Apple Watch, we hit upon a key design component that presents data in an easily digestible way that would make its way into the other apps. We called it the travel cue. It was essentially three lines of data. The first line was the flight number followed by a verb (boards, departs, etc.). The second line, with larger type size, rotates between the absolute time (ex. 8:30am) and relative time (20min). The third line shows a broader set of variable data like gate number, terminal number, baggage claim number, etc., followed by a status (on-time, delayed, etc.). This visual lockup was so successful that we incorporated it into the other native apps as part of the home screen info.

We were even able to incorporate pre-flight info such as traffic (time to airport) and in-flight positioning on a map. The app itself is shallow, but supports check-in both with and without passbook. 

Upon announcement of Apple Watch, and AA being featured in multiple spots with Apple, we saw a dramatic increase in downloads for both the watch and the phone. Since AA was not supporting any major purchase patterns there was no revenue stream tying into the native apps and the primary goal was exposure and downloads.


While not necessarily an extreme example of visual creativity, this was a very successful project that did a number of things:

  1. It reduced bloat by keeping the product team extremely thin. 
  2. It reduced visual bloat due to the technical constraints and how many images could be used, really defining their purpose, and debating their necessity.
  3. It focused on key things like information architecture and hierarchy.
  4. It leveraged other elements within the Apple ecosystem and didn’t try to do everything in/on one small screen.
  5. It/we focused on designing for the user instead of feeding into brand and business goals.


After the watch and app had been out for some time, we all felt the need to introduce AA-focused complications that the user could add to their watch face. This was another, even more extreme example, of designing for brand presence, giving the user their essential data and info, and allowing for things like color customization. I designed several options for every possible complication. However, this was made easier due to the previously described idea of the “travel cue” and how it could manifest into different things throughout the app experience.