Jason Steffen, postdoctoral fellow at the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics in Batavia, Illinois, has developed an optimal method for airplane boarding that minimizes boarding times, thus leading to a faster turnaround for planes.
Steffen’s method takes into account the fact that people standing in the aisle to put baggage in the overhead-bins block other passengers. To deal with this, his process recommends boarding the back window passengers first. These are followed by third-to-back window and so on up the aisle as the software model shows that travelers need two rows to store their baggage. Window passengers are followed by middle seat passengers boarding back to front.
Our experience is that unless you’re sitting in the very first rows, boarding an airplane typically seems to take forever as people already sitting in an aisle seat have to get up – and block the aisle – to accommodate passengers assigned to the window and middle seats. And other passengers, struggling to stow their luggage, are also blocking the aisles for trying to make their way further to the rear.
This model has been successfully tested but has yet to be adopted by a major airline. While Steffen’s method of boarding has been developed specifically for airlines to minimize their aircraft turnaround times, as a passenger, wouldn’t it be great to be able to walk onto an airplane, stow your carry-ons in the overhead compartments and quickly get comfortable in your seat?