Wednesday, August 31, 2011

BBC News - Tests show fastest way to board passenger planes
Tom Smith

The best method has been the subject of study for years but now various approaches have been put to the test.

Boarding those in window seats first followed by middle and aisle seats results in a 40% gain in efficiency.

However, an approach called the Steffen method, alternating rows in the window-middle-aisle strategy, nearly doubles boarding speed.


I wonder if Steffen could have patented his boarding approach as a business method. It may be too late now. But if he had, he might have become a very rich fellow.

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The version I read of this was odd in that it said that the "zones" method boarded in blocks from back to front, but that's obviously not so, at least in planes in the US. I don't know for sure how it's done (it seems random, but that might be for reasons I'll mention in a minute) but it's quite obviously not in blocks from back to front, and hasn't been that way on most domestic US fights, at least, for many years. This makes me wonder a bit about the whole story.

More over, any system is going to face some serious problems in that two factors will fight against even the best system. 1) groups of people traveling together, especially those who book together such as families, want, with good reason, to board together. But as this is a common thing on planes, it messes up the scheme pretty significantly. 2) I'm pretty sure that airlines let people board sooner who a) fly more- and not just if you are a "platinum" member or the like- if you fly a fair amount you get zone 3 or maybe 2, if rarely you get 4 or higher, I'm pretty sure. There are good reasons for this. b) book in particular ways, c) pay more ("revenue" tickets board sooner than discount ones, in my experience.) I suspect that these factors will seem more important to the airlines than a small gain in boarding time, but if these are taken into account it will mess up the scheme.

Posted by: M Lister | Aug 31, 2011 5:28:08 PM