More efficient airplane boarding protocols

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Heimhenge
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More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Heimhenge » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:58 am UTC

Just got back on a flight from Chicago O'Hare to Phoenix Sky Harbor. They told us ahead of time the flight was totally booked with no vacant seats. I tried to mentally adjust for what I knew was going to be a less-than-pleasant flight. FYI, this was American Airlines, but other airlines have the same problems.

Here's the deal. When they started the boarding procedure they went with the usual "1st class, handicapped, parents w/ children first" protocol. No problems there. But that was followed by 6 "classes" of passengers that trickled into the cabin with no apparent rhyme or reason. Seats were filling up and down the cabin, passengers were delayed waiting for others to stow their overhead bags, others waited for seated passengers to move so that they could get into the window or middle seat. Total chaos, highly inefficient, psychologically aggravating, and makes for "dead air" losing $ for the company.

Other airlines have similar boarding protocols. I haven't flown them all, so there may be some sanity in the industry I have not yet encountered. But here is my question: Why doesn't the boarding protocol proceed thusly?

1. Usual special classes with first boarding priority.
2. Everyone else follows this system ...

a. Window seats board first starting with the rear cabin and working forward. Starboard first, port second. Less collisions between passengers taking seats and stowing bags.
b. Repeat above with the middle seats.
c. Repeat above with the aisle seats.
d. Flight attendants do their thing.

How could this not be better than the current system? Perhaps the bigger question is: Why isn't this being done given the obvious benefits?

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I can't believe I'm the first person to think of a better boarding protocol. Don't the airlines have "experts" who are supposed to be thinking about this stuff?

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:05 am UTC

1) If you have 3 people traveling together, they all want to board together rather than separately.
2) The overhead bins fill up FAST now that there's luggage fees. Under your system, aisle seats will always have to check their luggage.
3) Related to the above, part of the express boarding system is basically an extra way of getting money, in that people pay a tad extra so they are less likely to have to check luggage at the gate.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:37 am UTC

The Mythbusters did at least one episode addressing this and found a method that seemed to be faster than any of the standards.

My personal feeling is that it doesn't matter much, I don't think the boarding procedure is usually a bottleneck in getting the plane moving (perhaps for very large aircraft, like 747s, it could be more of an issue. If so, I haven't experienced it).
I travel light as a rule, so I'm never very concerned about overhead space. Also, aren't the size restrictions for carry-on luggage supposed to ensure that there is enough overhead space for everyone? I've been on flights where the overhead bins were filled and passengers who hadn't boarded yet need to hand over their carry on bags that couldn't fit under the seat to be checked into the luggage compartment. But I've never been clear on why/how that happens because I've also been on full-to-capacity flights on the same model/layout/airline aircraft where overhead space was full, but not so full there wasn't enough room for everyone.
Otherwise, getting on the plane early doesn't seem to offer any particular advantage (aside from airlines such as SouthWest, where your position in the boarding queue determines the seating options you can choose from). I'd much rather spend the maximum possible amount of time at the gate, where there is a relative abundance of personal space, leg and head room, rather than rush to get crammed into my assigned seat and then wait for everyone else to finish boarding, for the luggage to be loaded, drink carts restocked, fuel topped off etc. and then for the plane to actually receive a position in the taxi queue.

Priority boarding is therefor worth negative money to me. I would pay more to board later and thus spend less total time on the plane. Such a program would ideally include having a flight attendant bring my carry-ons to my seat beforehand and load them into a convenient overhead bin to avoid having to check luggage just because I want to get on the plane last. And even more ideally would also include priority disembarking so I could get off the plane first.

As it stands, I generally board with the last group regardless of what my ticket says
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby ThirdParty » Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:56 am UTC

I'm pretty sure that the passenger cabin cycle (deplaning + cleaning + boarding) is not the main bottleneck to airplane turnaround time. Certainly it wouldn't be if any reasonably-efficient boarding protocol were used. This has a number of important implications, most notably:
  • Consistency matters more than efficiency. (A protocol that always takes twenty minutes is better than one that sometimes takes twenty minutes and sometimes takes only ten. Either way you have to start boarding twenty minutes before your scheduled departure from the gate, and either way passengers reach their destination at the same time. But the former lets the average passenger spend more time in the airport and less time on the plane than the latter does.)
  • It's worth spending extra time during boarding in order to decrease the time spent deplaning. (For example, we definitely want to avoid having someone's carry-on end up in an overhead bin in a row behind his seat, since that will cause a major traffic jam during deplaning.)
I think the best protocol is the No Assigned Seating method used by Southwest Airlines. It tends to sort passengers near their luggage, and also tends to sort passengers with small luggage in front of passengers with large luggage, both of which tendencies help with efficient deplaning. An additional benefit is that it lets individual passengers decide for themselves what weights to give priorities such as sitting near the front of the plane (in order to deplane earlier), sitting with friends and family, and sitting in a window/aisle seat.

Other protocols worth mentioning are the Steffen protocol (which minimizes boarding time, at least if everybody boards exactly when he's told to and nobody arrives at the gate after boarding has already begun) and the Flying Carpet protocol (which captures most of the advantages of the Steffen method while also being relatively joker-proof).

I suspect that the logic behind protocols used by airlines other than Southwest is some combination of "let's frustrate the passengers as much as possible, in hopes of getting more of them to fork over extra cash for priority boarding rights" and "let's board the passengers in the slowest way possible, to keep them occupied while the plane refuels".

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:46 am UTC

I think Wendover Productions has a video on exactly this topic (and why it's not feasible to streamline).
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby speising » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:31 am UTC

the problem with the over-head bins is, in my experience, the load of exceptions to the one-pice-only rule.
First, you're allowed one pice of a certain max size.
But, laptops extra.
And purses.
And duty-free.
And coats.

In the end, one passenger can fill up an entire compartment with their own stuff.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Zohar » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:26 pm UTC

I'm assuming this is a reserved seating flight? Anyway there's two main facts you're overlooking here.
1. People are easily and confused and can't easily follow directions in airports - many of them just assume everything will work out since so many people are pushing them along, many are exhausted after long connection flights, etc.
2. While airlines care about leaving on time, they care equally or even more to satisfy the highest-paying customers.

So your proposed method of having windows go first etc. is unrealistic - it wouldn't mean 1st class and business get to board first, and the instructions are way too complicated. They would also mean in a plane that has a center seating area you'd fill the middle seats first, which means the middle seat people would get to put their overhead bags first, which might mean the ones in the aisle (who pay more) don't get to put their overhead bags in.

In some airlines the order I've seen is handicapped/families, 1st class, business class, then back-to-front. That's pretty simple to me and relatively efficient. Of course the 1st class stuff is bullshit.
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby ucim » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:40 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Of course the 1st class stuff is bullshit.
You mean, the people who pay three times the coach price for a ticket should still be treated like cattle when boarding? First class ticket holders should be treated well... like, first class... to encourage them to overpay for their tickets and subsidize the rest of the airplane.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Zohar » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:49 pm UTC

They're not subsidizing the rest of the plane. There's a third the amount of people per square meter in 1st class so they pay three times as much. You really think the amount people pay in coach is negligible?

In any case my point was specifically regarding the special treatment they get during boarding and disembarking. That's bullshit. It gets in everyone's way, it delays departures, and it doesn't actually make 1st class clients feel particularly better. Some bigger airplanes today have two doors - one for 1st class, one for the rest, that makes a lot of sense if you feel you need to make sure the rich don't get close to us poor people, but otherwise it should definitely just go back-to-front. And there's plenty of ways to sell it from a marketing perspective ("You get later boarding, don't have to spend as much time in the airport" etc.).

I was on a flight once where 1st class was in the upper level of a plane. I happened to be pretty close to the front on the lower level. Most people from 1st class disembarked, but there was one person that was delaying up there. We were all standing in line and they wouldn't let us off until that final person deigned to get off. That is bullshit. That is inefficient and improper.
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby ThirdParty » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:32 am UTC

Zohar wrote:otherwise it should definitely just go back-to-front.
Why in the world would anyone load a plane back-to-front? I mean, I guess it's marginally better than front-to-back, but it's still substantially worse than just boarding in random order.

(Passengers tend to block the aisle temporarily while getting into their seats, particularly if they have luggage for the overhead bin or if they need someone to get out of their way. The goal of an efficient boarding protocol is to have these aisle-blocking events, whenever possible, happen simultaneously rather than sequentially. If you board by row number, you're making it more likely that a passenger won't be able to take his seat until the passenger who boarded ahead of him has finished taking his. That's the opposite of efficiency.)

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Zohar » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:44 am UTC

Except if you board back to front, anyone who's stuck delaying a row is going to be further back in the plane. Maybe I didn't explain myself properly. If the door is at the front of the plane and the passengers in row 40 are taking forever to get into their seat, the passengers in row 39 don't give a shit because they can easily get to row 39, the row 40 people are behind them. How is having the person in row 7 stick around better for the people who want to get behind them?
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby ThirdParty » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:32 am UTC

Zohar wrote:Except if you board back to front, anyone who's stuck delaying a row is going to be further back in the plane. Maybe I didn't explain myself properly. If the door is at the front of the plane and the passengers in row 40 are taking forever to get into their seat, the passengers in row 39 don't give a shit because they can easily get to row 39, the row 40 people are behind them. How is having the person in row 7 stick around better for the people who want to get behind them?
You're forgetting that the aisle of an airplane isn't wide enough for six people to stand side-by-side.
If the passenger assigned to 40a is standing in the aisle in row 40 fiddling with the overhead bin, then the passengers assigned to 40b-40f are standing in the aisle blocking rows 35-39, waiting for the first passenger to get out of the way so that they can take their seats. The passengers assigned to 39a-39f can't easily take their seats; they're just standing in the aisle blocking in rows 29-34, waiting for the passengers assigned to row 40 to get out of the way.

Rather than sending the passengers assigned to row 38 to go stand in the line and block rows 23-28, now would be a relatively good time to send the passenger assigned to 7a; unlike the passengers assigned to row 38, the passenger assigned to 7a is capable of doing something productive right now, namely putting his bag in the overhead bin above his row, and then taking his seat.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:38 am UTC

You miss the part where he suggested loading the window seats, then the middle seats, then the aisle seats. So 40-window, 39-window, 38-window, ... 1-window, then 40-middle, 39-middle, 38-middle, ... 1-middle, 40-aisle, 39-aisle, 38-aisle, ... 1-aisle. Board in that order and nobody is ever in anybody's way.
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby heuristically_alone » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:49 am UTC

No matter where I sit or when I'm supposed to board, I always wait to be one of the last people on the plane. Why wait in a long line to board with I can wait comfortable in a seat in the terminal until there's not a line anymore?
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Leovan » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:41 am UTC

You could try boarding rows 40, 36, 32. 28 1 minute later 24, 20, 16, 12 then 8, 4 then 39, 35, 31, 27...23, 19, 15, 11 etc etc. You can keep families together since they mostly sit in a single row. Row 40 won't be standing in line back far enough to get in 36s way, etc. The one minute delay will implement the boarding back-to-front. You don't need to wait a whole minute, just until the previous passengers are on their way. Make 4 lanes at the gate, with a sign showing the row number boarding next. When row 40 walks, the 40 changes to 24, and by the time 28 is launched, 24 will be full and ready to go.

Of course this would require passengers to follow directions and be organized and not the bunch of headless chickens they usually are.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Zohar » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:13 pm UTC

ThirdParty wrote: If the passenger assigned to 40a is standing in the aisle in row 40 fiddling with the overhead bin, then the passengers assigned to 40b-40f are standing in the aisle blocking rows 35-39, waiting for the first passenger to get out of the way so that they can take their seats. The passengers assigned to 39a-39f can't easily take their seats; they're just standing in the aisle blocking in rows 29-34, waiting for the passengers assigned to row 40 to get out of the way.

Rather than sending the passengers assigned to row 38 to go stand in the line and block rows 23-28, now would be a relatively good time to send the passenger assigned to 7a; unlike the passengers assigned to row 38, the passenger assigned to 7a is capable of doing something productive right now, namely putting his bag in the overhead bin above his row, and then taking his seat.

I get what you're saying, but I think that's a worst-case scenario, and the boarding scheme you described is waay too complicated - you'll constantly get people asking the attendants if they missed their row, when they're going to board, and so on. Most people board pretty quickly, a lot of people don't have carry-ons. If we were talking about robots boarding or completely obedient/logical beings, then your plan would work, but I don't think it would end up saving time in the real world. And when you're sending the guy in 7a, you have no guarantee he's not going to block the rest of the plane for everyone else - you're going to run out of rows at the front.

heuristically_alone wrote:No matter where I sit or when I'm supposed to board, I always wait to be one of the last people on the plane. Why wait in a long line to board with I can wait comfortable in a seat in the terminal until there's not a line anymore?

There's two reasons. First, some low-cost companies don't have reserved seating. If you board last, you get the worst seat. Second, if you need to put anything in the overhead compartments, you better board early or you won't have room and have to check in your luggage.
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby heuristically_alone » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:43 pm UTC

It works for me because I typically only fly on airlines with reserved seats and I never use the overhead compartments. This would never work if everyone did this though.
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Ranbot » Wed Feb 28, 2018 10:41 pm UTC

I can't find it now, but I'm fairly certain I listened to an NPR podcast once about plane boarding... Southwest Airlines' system of zoned boarding and first-come-first-serve seating is on average the fastest boarding of all the major carriers (in the US at least). Other air carriers have examined Southwest's methods and tried to emulate them where they could. However, because other airlines assign specific seats to passengers [counter-intuitively] it creates boarding complications and delays.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Heimhenge » Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:54 pm UTC

I guess it's about time to weigh in again as OP. I was not expecting this amount of discussion from a thread started the night after a bad boarding experience. Seems like this is a common gripe. I was mainly venting, but also really wondering why the system can't be improved. After reading all the feedback I think I have to stand by my original suggestion of back-to-front and window-to-aisle boarding protocol. Sure, there's always some dolt who screws up any protocol, but I think my system is still optimal for speed and convenience.

I would add the caveat (to keep things as simple as possible for non-robotic boarders) that whether or not seats are reserved, the tickets could show the boarding number as well as the seat number. Passengers would simply arrange themselves in queue by boarding number ... kinda like what Southwest does now but for ALL the seats in a numerical sequence.

Also, though I didn't suggest this in my OP, deplaning would obviously be the opposite process: front-to-back, aisle-to-window. All the aisle seats deplane first, all the overhead compartments are left open for the next deplaners.

I'll grant that passengers w/o carryons to stow might be slowed by those that have stuff to stow, but that happens whatever boarding protocol is used. Unless you amend the protocol to board all passengers w/o carryons first ... but that would be an incremental improvement at best and probably a source of resentment to passengers that do have carryons.

I get the objection that "families like to board together", especially when there are children involved, but it's a minor separation time in a relatively secure environment. If the child is an infant the parent is intending to hold for the entire flight ... fine, let them board together. But if a child is old enough to need their own seat, they're old enough to wait a few minutes in line.

I read all the responses and did not see a convincing counter-example showing why my protocol wouldn't be optimal.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby ThirdParty » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:54 am UTC

I mean, your protocol is basically the Steffen protocol, with some different assumptions about how much space people need while fooling with overhead bins. That probably is the best that can be done given assigned seating and perfectly-compliant passengers.

But it should be possible to do better with dynamic seating and perfectly-compliant passengers. Consider a procedure like this:
  1. If you are not carrying luggage that needs to go in an overhead bin, walk toward the back of the plane until you come to a row with an empty seat; then sit in that row, as close to a window as possible.
  2. If you are carrying luggage that needs to go in an overhead bin, walk toward the back of the plane until (a) you reach the last overhead bin that is going to have enough space remaining to accommodate your luggage or (b) somebody is blocking your way. Then stow your luggage and start following rule (1).
  3. If no overhead bin is going to have enough space remaining to accommodate your luggage, do not bring it onto the plane; gate-check it instead.
This should more-or-less maximize the number of luggage-stowage acts that occur in parallel to one another, while also sorting people fairly near their luggage and sorting luggage-free people near the front of the plane where they will be able to swiftly deplane. (Which is not just good for them, but also gets them out of seats/aisles where they might block another deplaning passenger's ability to reach his overhead bin.)

Obviously we'd never get people to actually comply, but I'm just saying: if we could, this would be more efficient than having assigned seats. (Unless possibly you took into account how much luggage people had, and how fast-moving they were, when you assigned the seats to begin with.)

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby ucim » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:06 am UTC

People sit in their seats for hours during a plane flight. They wait minutes to board. So, people have a much stronger interest in getting the seat they want than they do getting to their seat fast. I'd rather wait to sit ahead of the wing on a window seat on the shade side of the plane, than have to sit in the back of the plane on an aisle seat on the sunny side next to the bathroom. I'm going to be there a long time.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:50 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:As it stands, I generally board with the last group regardless of what my ticket says


Hey, I also do that! Generally carrying a single small carry on, so...why would I want to spend more time in the uncomfortable misery-tube than necessary? Folks seem to value it enough to stand in line(further discomfort) for some time before their zone is boarded, hoping to end up slightly further ahead in their zone. Seems...awful.

Southwest is also pretty pleasant, I agree. I'll go a bit earlier to avoid a middle seat there, unless the flight is obviously underbooked. Those are delightful. Elbow room for all. Take oddball flights that are routinely underbooked if you can. Not only is it faster to board, the whole experience is a great deal better, worth waking up early for. Bonus, being tired as crap on an airplane might help you actually pass out for some of the trip.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby arbiteroftruth » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:41 pm UTC

As a compromise on the OP's back-to-front, window-to-aisle protocol, to address the desire for families to board together, try this:

On a plane with 6 seats per row, with assigned seating, board back to front, every sixth row. Let's number the rows back to front starting with row 0. The first boarding group would be everyone seated in rows 0, 6, 12, and so on. Second boarding group is rows 1, 7, 13, and so on. Continue likewise to the sixth and final boarding group consisting of rows 5, 11, 17, and so on.

This way, people sitting on the same row will board together, which should mostly accommodate families and friends traveling together, but you still get a lot of parallelization of stowing actions.

The only appropriate deplaning protocol is to shoot everyone with stowed luggage and let those without stowed luggage exit quickly.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby drzeus » Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:39 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:I get the objection that "families like to board together", especially when there are children involved, but it's a minor separation time in a relatively secure environment. If the child is an infant the parent is intending to hold for the entire flight ... fine, let them board together. But if a child is old enough to need their own seat, they're old enough to wait a few minutes in line.


Children have to have their own seat from their second birthday. If an adult is travelling with two children under two, one has to have their own seat. This means you want babies who are a few months old, can't talk and can't even crawl, to wait by themselves in line?

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby SuicideJunkie » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:57 pm UTC

There has to be a separate boarding call for people who need assistance in general, so a couple toddlers are covered with staff assistance.
If toddlers make up a significant percentage of the plane's passengers, an efficient boarding process is a lost cause no matter what you do.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Zohar » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:21 pm UTC

All of you people expecting parents and toddlers to be cool with boarding separately have obviously never met a child.
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby ucim » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:33 pm UTC

SuicideJunkie wrote:If toddlers make up a significant percentage of the plane's passengers, an efficient boarding process is a lost cause no matter what you do.
How does Air Force One do it?

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby SuicideJunkie » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:40 pm UTC

I would treat the toddlers+parent cluster as a single unit needing assistance and thus be taken out of the main boarding sequence.

Ucim:
They know in advance, so the schedule already pads for inefficiency.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby bantler » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:09 pm UTC

First Class should board first and into the back of the plane. Important people shouldn't be subjected to the parade of filth.
Departure is trickier; They need a rear exit to depart first AND avoid the riff-raff.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Ranbot » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:02 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:...I think I have to stand by my original suggestion of back-to-front and window-to-aisle boarding protocol. Sure, there's always some dolt who screws up any protocol, but I think my system is still optimal for speed and convenience.


I looked, but didn't see this mentioned, but one of the drawbacks to your system is there are some people assigned seats in the back of the plane, who put their carry-on luggage in a bin up front, so it's easier for them to retrieve when getting off. They didn't get that front seat/luggage bin, so the next best thing is to just put their luggage up front. That selfishness and short-sightedness leads to greater overall delays as passengers with carry-on bags sitting near the front have to search for open bins behind them and move against the flow traffic during boarding and deplaning to handle their bags. Some airlines try to police this, but it still happens. Also, there are complications and delays with people who sit in the wrong seat (accidentally or purposely) or try to negotiate switching seats with passengers.

People are stupid, selfish, and short-sighted... News at 11! :lol:

Therefore systems with people either need to be well enforced or flexible to stop or accommodate rule-breakers. It's the flexibility of Southwest's boarding system that makes it efficient, despite seeming very unorganized on the surface. It can flex some with desires of passengers, including the stupid ones. (Of course there's an upper limit of stupidity for any system to accommodate.)


:idea:
I think it would be neat if an airline experimented with rewarding passengers for fast boarding. They could arrange for the optimal boarding system, tell passengers that if they follow all the rules they should board within a set time, and if that time is met then the airline will give all passengers on the plane a discount, credit, gift card, or other reward for their cooperation.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby DaBigCheez » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:59 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote: :idea:
I think it would be neat if an airline experimented with rewarding passengers for fast boarding. They could arrange for the optimal boarding system, tell passengers that if they follow all the rules they should board within a set time, and if that time is met then the airline will give all passengers on the plane a discount, credit, gift card, or other reward for their cooperation.

This sounds like the setup for a post-dystopian Stephen King novel, where society collapsed due to all the fights breaking out as everyone started screaming at each other for "holding up the line and making us all lose our discount"...
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Chen » Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:34 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote::idea:
I think it would be neat if an airline experimented with rewarding passengers for fast boarding. They could arrange for the optimal boarding system, tell passengers that if they follow all the rules they should board within a set time, and if that time is met then the airline will give all passengers on the plane a discount, credit, gift card, or other reward for their cooperation.


Yeah good luck being that family who has a kid who holds up some of the boarding and now is not only screaming but everyone on the plane hates you for costing them $50. Or you get on the flight with the rich arrogant dude who decides he doesn't care or need the money and puts his luggage somewhere that's convenient to him and against the rules, not only slowing people down but costing everyone money too.

This would be awful.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby arbiteroftruth » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:16 pm UTC

If you have an assigned seat and a carry-on, you should have an assigned bin. If you take someone else's bin, when they get there and find it occupied, they just replace it with their own. The flight crew makes a quick announcement to give the owner a chance to claim it and put it in the right bin, and if no one claims it, they treat it as a bag that was checked at the gate. Since they don't know whose bag it is, they give it a tag directing the bag toward lost and found at the destination rather than toward the regular baggage claim, so the passenger reclaiming the bag has to pay for checking it before they get it back.

Make that your policy, and feel free to stipulate whatever method you want for the relative positions of a passenger's seat and bin when boarding.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Ranbot » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:24 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote: :idea:
I think it would be neat if an airline experimented with rewarding passengers for fast boarding. They could arrange for the optimal boarding system, tell passengers that if they follow all the rules they should board within a set time, and if that time is met then the airline will give all passengers on the plane a discount, credit, gift card, or other reward for their cooperation.

DaBigCheez wrote:This sounds like the setup for a post-dystopian Stephen King novel, where society collapsed due to all the fights breaking out as everyone started screaming at each other for "holding up the line and making us all lose our discount"...

Chen wrote:Yeah good luck being that family who has a kid who holds up some of the boarding and now is not only screaming but everyone on the plane hates you for costing them $50. Or you get on the flight with the rich arrogant dude who decides he doesn't care or need the money and puts his luggage somewhere that's convenient to him and against the rules, not only slowing people down but costing everyone money too.

This would be awful.


That's why I only said it would be neat if they "experimented" :wink: The amount of stress might also depend on the level of reward. Losing a very tangible and immediate reward, like a certain amount of money or gift, could increase stress beyond the benefit of the reward. A less immediate/tangible reward, like being entered in a raffle for a potential reward, might cause less stress, but less incentive to follow the boarding rules.


This article describes different plane boarding methods: https://www.vox.com/2014/4/25/5647696/t ... y-no-sense

Counter-intuitively the boarding from back to front ("standard") is actually the slowest.
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby ucim » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:32 pm UTC

So.... in the very best case we can save ten minutes on a trip that's typically going to be three or more hours in the air, plus getting to the airport an hour or two before the flight, plus the time it takes to get to the airport and to the ultimate destination. Not something I'm going to lose sleep over.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby SuicideJunkie » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:38 pm UTC

bantler wrote:First Class should board first and into the back of the plane. Important people shouldn't be subjected to the parade of filth.
Departure is trickier; They need a rear exit to depart first AND avoid the riff-raff.

There *is* a rear exit. More than one even. If they were willing to utilize all of the existing exits, instead of just the small one at the front, unloading would go much faster. Turning the plane around for its next flight would take a lot more work however.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby bantler » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:00 pm UTC

SuicideJunkie wrote:
bantler wrote:First Class should board first and into the back of the plane. Important people shouldn't be subjected to the parade of filth.
Departure is trickier; They need a rear exit to depart first AND avoid the riff-raff.

There *is* a rear exit. More than one even. If they were willing to utilize all of the existing exits, instead of just the small one at the front, unloading would go much faster. Turning the plane around for its next flight would take a lot more work however.


Nah. Just snake those reticulated hallways around to fit over the exits.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Zohar » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:29 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote:This article describes different plane boarding methods: https://www.vox.com/2014/4/25/5647696/t ... y-no-sense

Counter-intuitively the boarding from back to front ("standard") is actually the slowest.

I am very surprised, but also slightly doubtful of one test done by Mythbusters. I'm sure airline companies have a lot of data on this and I'd be interested in seeing it.
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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Chen » Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:52 am UTC

Zohar wrote:I am very surprised, but also slightly doubtful of one test done by Mythbusters. I'm sure airline companies have a lot of data on this and I'd be interested in seeing it.


https://arxiv.org/pdf/1108.5211v1.pdf

Paper shows that rear ordered or block boarding is pretty slow compared to other methods like the Wilma method or even random boarding. It tends to cause the most aisle interference apparently.

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Re: More efficient airplane boarding protocols

Postby Ranbot » Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:53 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Zohar wrote:I am very surprised, but also slightly doubtful of one test done by Mythbusters. I'm sure airline companies have a lot of data on this and I'd be interested in seeing it.


https://arxiv.org/pdf/1108.5211v1.pdf

Paper shows that rear ordered or block boarding is pretty slow compared to other methods like the Wilma method or even random boarding. It tends to cause the most aisle interference apparently.

Right. Rear to front boarding creates a bottleneck at the row being seated. Because the aisle is only big enough for one person, it only allows one person at a time in the [typically] 6-seat row to be stowing luggage/sitting down, while everyone else boarding the plane has to wait.

Randomized or letting passengers pick their seat at boarding also creates boarding bottlenecks but they are smaller usually distributed throughout the plane, and passengers may have the option to just sit down instead of waiting in the aisle for a specific seat.

The fastest method mathematically is boarding in a choreographed outside to inside and back to front (Steffen model), but in the real world an airline wouldn't be able to orchestrate boarding with the precision necessary and must accommodate for passengers with special needs and families [and rule-breakers/direction-challenged].

The article I posted above goes into more details and has videos of different boarding methods.

The real trick would be to organize people to make deplaning faster, but large numbers of stressed people who have been stuck in a noisy tube for hours tend not to follow directions well. Realistically I think all that could help is giving passengers a second door/ramp to use, which would greatly speed up boarding too.


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