A Faster Boarding Method

You’re at the airport waiting to board your plane. You look at your ticket and realize that you’re in zone 4, which means you have to wait until business class travelers, those with small children, those who need extra time boarding and those in the other zones board before  you can finally get to your seat. Once your zone is called, you stand in a long line on the jet way, a line made long by the large number of people who boarded before you who are now standing in the aisle of the plane taking off their jackets. By the time you get to your seat there is hardly any overhead space left, leaving you annoyed that you decided to carry-on instead of checking your luggage. Also, don’t forget about the obligatory ‘leap over the aisle and middle seat’ so you can squeeze next to the window. Why does boarding a plane have to be such a time consuming, difficult process?  Dr. Jason Steffen, a particle physicist at Fermilab had the same question, and has found a solution that dramatically decreases the amount of time it takes to board a plane.

While many studies have been conducted in an attempt to reduce the amount of time it takes to board a plane, Steffen’s is the first real-world tested theory that has been demonstrated to cut boarding time in half!

While most airlines today board using the ‘back to front’ method, Dr Steffen’s method goes a little something like this: First to board are passengers with window seats in alternating rows on the right side of the plane. Then, the same thing is done for the left side of the plane, alternating rows and window seats only.  This pattern is then continued for the middle and aisle seats until everyone is on board. The video below will probably make it a bit clearer…

Using the Steffen method, passengers are able to put their luggage in the overhead compartments without holding up everyone else. Also, no one has to move from their seat in order to let you get to yours (unless they ‘accidentally’ sit in the wrong seat), and you don’t have to wait in a long line for the crowded aisles to clear, making for a much faster and pleasant way to start your travels.

Steffen’s findings were first published in 2008. Here we are almost 5 years later, and the majority of airlines are still using the traditional boarding method? Why is it that airlines haven’t adopted this strategy? Do you think that this real-world test will open some eyes?


Filed under General, In Our Opinion, Industry Takes

2 responses to “A Faster Boarding Method

  1. Chris

    Yes… I’m bored with boarding!

    • James

      Why do people insist on ignoring studies like these?? It makes perfect sense and has tests to back it up, and yet we still have to wait half an hour to board. The airlines pay for every minute they spend at the gate. Why would they not want to get out of there as fast a humanly possible…?

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