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Old Aug 31, 2011, 9:44 AM is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 197
Lightbulb Astrophysicist's Method Cuts Plane Boarding Times in Half

Dr. Jason Steffen, an astrophysicist at Fermilab, came up with a method he claimed could cut airplane boarding times drastically about two years ago. More recently, he tested several different methods of boarding, complete with video: Boarding as we do it now (blocks of fliers, boarding from the back of the plane to the front), compared with a random boarding system and a careful one of his own design. Those three methods, by the way, are in ascending order of effectiveness.

Steffen found that simply letting passengers board at random would actually be faster than boarding in the strict blocks we're all used to. That method tends to create bottlenecks, because there's limited room to be storing items in the overhead bin, and everyone is trying to do it at the same time in the same area of the plane. Steffen's method is much more organized, relying more on row number and seat (window, middle, or aisle) than general area of the plane. The plan:

First, passengers sitting in the window seats on one side of the plane all board at once, in alternating rows (row 1, 3, 5, etc.). Then the same is done on the other side of the plane. Then the middle seats, still in alternating rows, boards on the first side of the plane. That continues with the other side's middle seats, then (first one and then the other) aisle seats. Then, do it all again for the even-numbered rows.

It's simple, but very efficient; alternating rows gives everyone enough elbow room, and taking careful notice of seat position reduces bottlenecks from aisle-seaters having to stand up all the time. Steffen's work was published this week in the science collection arXiv, and was demonstrated on the show This vs. That, which you can see below. Steffen did not get the response he was hoping for from the airlines when he first presented his work, but "Now that we have [real data]," he says, "I guess we'll see."
Old Aug 31, 2011, 4:05 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 745

Simple. Not. Observing people who board aircraft is like watching a herd of cats. Many do not pay any attention to the instructions from the agents, and will do what ever they want as long as they're on the plane before the door is shut.

The good doctor's boarding procedure would work fine with a group of disciplined people, like say the military. But the average person who thinks they're the center of the known universe, or has kids in tow? Not gonna work.
Old Aug 31, 2011, 4:13 PM
cortney cortney is offline
Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 288

took the words right out of my mouth. people dont listen and never will listen. no matter what type of boarding. they can post this all they want saying..look it works! yeah, because they were probably told to wait and listen. i once flew united and was in zone 4. i waited. i was watching people board and they were on zone 2. some guy was in line, handed the agent his card and she said "sorry your in zone 4 and were boarding 1 and 2 right now" the guy got out of line, they went on to zone 3, he was up there AGAIN...the agent said "sir, you are in zone 4, im sorry but you need to wait" the guy got all loud and rude (couldnt believe it, after the agent was actually nice) and told her, SHE didnt need to be so rude. come on dude, she told you twice already.

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