Everyone Hates Flying

July 2, 2012

Torah Kachur

Torah in Mozambique


Yes, I'm travelling again.  For fans of Science in Seconds you will know that I travel.... a lot.


I have logged over 80,000 miles in the last 16 months alone which means a lot, I'm talking A LOT, of boarding lounges, cramped overhead compartments and lots and lots of line ups.  It got me thinking that surely someone has thought of a better way to board a plane.  I mean, seriously Westjet, 30 minutes to board a half empty've got to be kidding me.  It may work better, but how exactly can it be implemented Mr. Steffen.



I'm all for finding a better way of not wasting my time at airports and I detest boarding lines....maybe this method will develop a sense of collegiality that is so desperately needed before embarking on the worst 8 hours of your life.  Or maybe it will make me dread the boarding lounge even more.


There has to be a better way, and I was determined to find out.


ResearchBlogging.orgUntil a group of physicists at Fermilab beat me to it.  I can't compete with that.  In a paper published in The Journal of Air Transport Management they experimented with different ways of boarding including the much hated random, everyone stand in line forever while people from the front rows take their sweet-ass time sitting down to the standard back rows first methods.  In fact, neither of those were the fastest. 

What about boarding window seats first and working your way out to the aisle?  That way you won't have to crawl over the gut of some stinky perv.   This is called the Wilma method, no news if Barnie missed the flight.  This is a good candidate, there is little seat interference and it kinda makes sense. 


But the winner was something called the Steffen method, arrogantly named after one of the authors who is now my hero, where people line up according to being two rows apart in the same seat as the person behind them.  So if you are in seat 8A you have to, apparently, scream out your seat number to find out who should be in front (Mr. 10A) and behind you (Ms. 6A) and so on and so forth.

Jason H. Steffen, & Jon Hotchkiss (2011). Experimental test of airplane boarding methods Jour. Air. Trans. Mgmt., Vol. 18, Issue 1, pp. 64-67, (2012) arXiv: 1108.5211v1



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