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Physicist cuts plane boarding time in half could safe $100 million annually

New boarding procedure could make airplane boarding a snap. If only everyone would move like cattle smoothly to their stalls. ( Altro...

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I wonder if it will ever be implemented. Sounds like a neat idea. Anything different would help.
JD345 0
I don't quite think this would save $100m per carrier, but it's interesting at least. Mock boarding volunteers are probably going to be more efficient no matter how they board so it's kind of hard to say how big of an effect something like this would actually have. AirTran boards by "zones" starting at the window and working towards the aisle.
dmanuel 0
Sounds good - until you throw people (with a sense of entitlement) in the equation.
linbb 0
Get real things happen and cause delays I guess using cattle prods would get things moving guess this guy is just too far ahead of everyone to think of doing something like the prods, works on cows could try it on him.
Tom Hebel 0
First - his "live" test was with 72 passengers on a 757 which seat from 170 to almost 200. flying @40% load factor is never a boarding problem and there is never an overhead bin problem.
Second - he is a physicist and is not a trained psychologist who has studied crowd or mob behaviour.
Third - His study does not take in account a flight that is behind schedule and airport staff trying to board the crowd is less than realistic time.
Fourth - How many flights has this dude actually taken so that he can see all of the chaos? I have flown over 700 flights and have yet to any efficient baording process on packed flights.
Right on, Tom.
It'll work. I know because I've flown over 7,000,000 flights!
rsmath 0
I think cattle chutes would be better with a redesigned plane that has 3 entry doors - your traditional front one, one in the middle that could double as the emergency exit door rather than emer. exit door only and one in the rear. Single jetway door at the gate that leads to three corridors leading to each entry door and an airline representative at the fork will guide you to which corridor you should take to the plane based on your row number or seating area if you are going to split the plane into seating area A, B and C. pax arrives at plane within a few rows of their seat so you don't have to walk the whole length of the plane to get to your back row area seat and get stuck in traffic on the way to back there.
Bert03241 0
THRUSTT 7 million flights ???right, thats an absolute lie.
Quickest by far is no seat assigments - travel EasyJet or Ryanair in Europe and watch the 'race' for the best seats.

Also, I can't see the authors idea working at all, people don't get the idea of zones as it is, and generally board when they feel like it. The confusion created by people working out whether they are odd, even, window, center or aisle might be fun to watch though....
preacher1 0
@Bert03241: that caught my eye too but if you glance at his profile, you'll see that like myself, he carries an ATP, and if he is an older pilot with a high utilization carrier, while that is a bunch, it's not totally unrealistic.

As far as the idea itself,I must agree with Tom; this guy is a physicist, not a psycologist; while the idea itself might be a good one, like a lot of things, making it work(the human factor)would be impractical.
Not to nitpick, but 7M flights to oneself in a lifetime is an absolute impossibility. If you flew 100 times a day, everyday, for 100 years you still wouldn't come close to 7M flights.

That aside, I'm not sure how comfortable I would be putting my family on in a boarding situation like this. Families generally try to sit in rows with each other and boarding by individual seats will split up families while boarding. Are you going to have children wait in the boarding lounge while parents take their seats? Conversely, are you going to send your child aboard to find their seat without you? Are flight attendants going to be able to help every lone child to their seat in instances such as these? How does that affect boarding times?

The whole thing sounds poorly considered.
Very good point, Michael.

ThrustT must've been joking. If you accounted for 8 flights per day (which is still ridiculous), it would take almost 2,400 YEARS!!
N5827P 0
There are definitely logistical problems in his model. However, doing things "the way we've always done" isn't working either. New ideas should be considered and when logistically feasible, tried in the real world. My guess is only Southwest has any interest in trying a better way.
sviridovt 0
Michael brought a really good point and I was thinking about it too. However i must agree with the person that suggested using several jetways, some bigger jets board with 2 jetways but conventionally they connect. To the first 2 doors, and boarding one at the front and one at the rear would in my opinion be more efficient (however 3 jetways is an overkill in my opinion)
I don't know what's worse, taking forever to board an airplane, or people who are absolutely uptight!!! I was just being sarcastic with my 7 million flights. I probably only have 700,000 flights. By the way, I do have an ATP, and I'll be 123 years old in 2 months...
preacher1 0
Give'em hell
I'm a little confused. Can someone explain to me how so much money is being saved by just boarding procedures? Is it personnel time that's being accounted?

THURSTT - Excuse me for being uptight. Tell me...considering you're 122 years old, how are your 15.7 flights per day going for ya? ;)
Well, maybe I should have heeded my family's advice 25 years ago, and became a doctor or lawyer instead because I sure missed out on the glory years in this industry. I love flying, but it has become a job, a job that sucks for me. That's how my 15.7 flights a day are going. Nevertheless, it pays some of the bills. You know what really hurts my pockets? My son will be 17 in two weeks with a private. He's my 401k
I guess we got off topic on this, but I'm curious how the money is saved.syne the airplanes are turned quicker to go sit at the runway to burn gas.
That should be maybe instead of syne above
JD345 0
Sarcasm cops are out in force today!

I wonder how realistic the 75 guys boarding a mock 757 really was... they all know they're not actually flying... they don't really care about their bags, or what happens...
Chip Hermes 0
I'm sure nobody in the airline industry has thought of this before....finally a PHYSICIST is involved...great
David Sims 0
The problem with dividing the aircraft into many zones is it makes the entire process more confusing for the average passenger. I have seen the dumbfounded look on many faces when they call for zones, as people try to figure out what zone they are, and when they can board. And as others mentioned, there are those who think they are "special", and try to skip others and cause more confusion. I think the first thing to do is quit charging for checked bags to encourage more people to check than carry-on. Plus they need to be more strict with carry-on size requirements. I can't tell you how many times I have seen people on planes with bags way larger than any carry-on should be, then take up half a bin for just one bag.
preacher1 0
just my 2cts.worth; on commercial flights I have taken, it seems they always board 1st class and frequent fliers/upgrades first and I guess those are part of the perks, but they get them on and then start boarding coach and a big part of those folks are still in the aisles putting up bags or coats with coach waiting to get in. I realize that this will piss of those entitled to those perks and all but if they would simply board from back to front it would solve a lot of problems and they wouldn't have to have a physicist to help solve their problem. That being said, like THRUSTT commented earlier, what good would it do, kick out from the gate quicker and sit on the taxiway and burn more fuel.
alistairm 0
@Wayne: i agree, back to front would be a good way to go. Personally, i never understood why first class and the other snobs got on first anyhow. We all have tickets, meaning we all have seats. I have been in business class before and let me tell you, it would have been much better if the riff-raff (usually folks like me) would have boarded first. I say this because then you would not have the riff-raff (people like me) knocking your first class seat with their oversized carry on or staring at you just because you have a first class seat. Just think, you board after everyone else does and you can settle your ass in your first class seat and not be bothered by anyone brushing past you or staring at you!! Now that would be a first class experience!
Somehow TSA will feel that this will compromise security.
The problem with boarding the rear of the aircraft first is that then there isn't sufficient overhead space for the best seats in coach (the front) .
rsmath 0
@DavidSims - I think you're on to something with the baggage! Charge for carry-on anything larger than a purse while check-in is free - thus you have people boarding with supposedly fewer carry-on bags so they are more likely to take a seat than mess around standing in the aisles trying to find an overhead bin for their carry-on luggage and blocking traffic.
Jim Nasby 0
I wish that someone would actually look at getting back off the plane. There is always a huge bottleneck at the point where people are getting into the aisle... if people were encouraged to let people who are already in the aisle and have all their stuff go past them, I suspect that you could empty the plane 2x faster than what it normally takes.
rsmath 0
If you want to exit faster, end every flight with an false "emergency" - you'll get at least six exits on a lot of plane types! ;)
shawn white 0
What happens when you have a family boarding and the kids want to sit by the window? they get on by themselves cant put there bags up themselves? or when boarding at random and two people want the same seat? dont see how that would help.
only thing might be to use two doors at the same time.
Randy Brown 0
Load from the rear to the front and Encourage checked luggage. Charging for bags is stupid. It works against everything but greed. Bags SHOULD be in the hold not over head. There would be fewer loading issues and it would make flights safer.
Unless the physicist is Sheldon Cooper, I refuse to believe him. :)
Personally, I think some of the methods in use today (by row or by zone) would work OK if the gate attendant would actually enforce the boarding procedure. I've only seen that happen less than a half-dozen times.
I've always thought boarding "outside-in" (i.e. window to aisle) and from back to front would be more efficient.
I also don't think it matters that much about carry-on luggage. People have always brought too much on board. Before the fees, the excuse was the airline losing the luggage (which they still have no problem doing).
Tom Gorman 0
Physisicts work in finite worlds. People's behavior doesn't fit into that world. People have thwarted every good idea for boarding a plane sine they started flying.
pnschi 0
Tom H: just because you haven't witnessed an efficient system in 700 flights, doesn't mean it can't be done. (I think the 7 million from THRUSTT might just have been a poke at that...)

We're supposed to believe that competing companies are always coming up with lots of innovation to get ahead. But in reality, they don't. They basically copy each other, whether it's HR policies, insurance, cell phone plans, and boarding airplanes (how long has it been since the last major change came about there?). There's lots of inertia and laziness out there. Most competition in present day America takes place in the realm of hiding the final total cost of a product or service as much as possible at the time of purchase.

And Shawn W, the scheme allows keeping children and other vulnerable people with their traveling companions.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Tom Gorman.
Bob Scopatz 0
Seems to me the best boarding procedure would be to line everyone up out in the gate area. Everyone stands on their little numbered circle on the floor. When the gate agent says "go" everyone proceeds in an orderly fashion into the plane-rear of the plane first.

Also, we should just get rid of carry-on bags except those that will fit under the seat. Or, guitars & fishing poles (hey, I'm from Minnesota).

Oh, and anyone who comes to the gate late and misses their chance to board...they either get bumped or they have to pay a special fee that's credited to all the other passengers.

While I'm at it, lets stop boarding first class first. Or, at the very least, board them first, but stop making the flight attendants give them drinks and block the aisle for the rest of us who have to board by climbing over the obstructions.
There are two problems with this vidwo: First, there's no one yacking on a cell phone (or texting) and second, we're missing the person with the VW Beetle stuffed into a 'size-wise' duffel bag! Good luck to physicists, they clearly do not understand the basic human condition.
I'll just fly my "Az-truck" (Piper Aztec Type F, for those not knowing the reference) and take as many bags as I very well please. The problem isn't the 10 minutes it takes to board, the problem is the hour it takes to get your balls fondled by TSA before you even see airplanes.
Something has to give here. Basically people don't listen to instructions, are mnore important than everyone else, insist on VW sized carryons, are busy talking or texting, taking off jackets and folding them before stuffing them in the overhead while blocking the aisles.
Don't penalize people for checking bags, enforce carryon rules, load from rear to front or use more than one door, find your seat and sit in it.
If it makes most sense to board the rear of the aircraft first, then why not back the plane up to the gate - hey presto the rear seats are filled first. I am not a physicist.
What I can't figure out is why the 1st Class would even WANT to be on the plane ahead of everyone else...unless it is just so that the other pax can see their smiling face smirking with arrogance. (They probably got the upgrade for free anyway)

I miss the days when people dressed up to fly. Everyone treated everyone else with respect and therefore were also treated with respect.
I was in this test. There were 100 people there and we did it 5 different ways. We had filled every seat exactly the same as the airlines and the Physicist way was indeed a lot more efficient.
There was less luggage than usual but the log jams were identical if we loaded randomly or by sections.
Save fuel, ride a cowgirl!!!
planeaholic 0
I like the idea, but there is an inherent flaw: People would cry about boarding separately from their family member(s) sitting next to or across from them. I'm sure there would be provisions for allowing children to board with their parents (most likely DIRECTLY BEHIND ME), but like many others have pointed out, the human factor would precede any practicality. Future airliners and airports are going to have to be designed for 2 jetways per plane. Any other tweaking to the system will be flawed in some way.
chancy law 0
I never understood how boarding first is considered a 'perk'. You leave a nice roomy air conditioned terminal (well, most of the time), to sit on a cramped usually not so well air conditioned plane and than you have to wait for everyone else to board.

I like boarding last, and if I ever did fly first class I think I would wait anyways.

Oh, same for de-boarding as well. Laugh at everyone that is in a hurry to stand in the isle for 30 minutes once the plane stops.
ed george 0
Would be awesome if a carrier actually has the stones to test that. If you think about it, you have the occupied seat numbers, all you need is some simple code that give you the list of what to call out. If a passenger is not paying attention they would get slotted in with the next group of window/center/aisle seats to be called.
Tim Eichman 0
I have to agree with Jack DeMarre's comments: with actors, you won't get the idiots who sit in the back putting their bags in the forward overhead thereby forcing those people to go the back to put their bags then "swim upstream" to get back to their seats.

Plus when you've got people flying together, they won't want to split up in the terminal--especially families... I'm not leaving my wife out there while I board...
AccessAir 0
This might work if all the travellers are single people travelling.However, try separating a family or a parent travelling alone with a small child....Eh, not so much...


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