Speeding up the boarding of planesBack to Forum
Anonymous31 Aug 2011
European flights at LHR are rarely boarded in an orderly manner anyway!
If they were so, according to row, and people listened rather than pushed to get on, and it was controlled properly, it would be the fastest procedure anyway.31 Aug 2011
If this study catalyses an industry debate, then I think it will have achieved a useful purpose. That the methodology and ‘findings’ of the study can have a (human nature) bus driven right through them is probably less consequential.
The most interesting ‘finding’, I think, is the one regarding the free/unallocated-seating method. The study places this method in the middle of the table; slower than Wilma and Steffen but faster than Block and B2F.
Anecdotally and purely through observation, I tend to the opinion that ‘free’ seating is the slowest of all methods, as it actively encourages aisle blocking at all points down the cabin, and particularly at the immediate points of entry. I’m almost convinced that it’s largely a marketing ploy to re-inforce a facade of ‘low-cost’ – rather than one that actually does reduce turnround times – a bit like the lunacy of not offering fresh-poured milk from a carton when required (cheap) and instead handing out two jiggers of UHT, in a plastic glass, with a stirrer to every purchaser (expensive).
The fact that Steffen’s study got a better result from free-seating is probably in part the result of his subjects’ increasing familiarity with the aircraft cabin, their luggage and how to stow it, and their knowledge that it was a mock exercise and therefore the oft-observed instinct to run for the foremost and rearmost rows, the emergency exit rows, and to aisle-block while stowing luggage to give slower-running party members time to catch up and take adjacent seats, would be absent.
It’s such nuances that render the other findings doubtful. Were the subjects a representative sample of experience, age, gender, mobility and party-size? Did they carry representative types, sizes and weights of luggage? Which order were the tests carried out in? Were there any handicaps imposed for increasing familiarity with the exercises?
I note that Air France provide(d?) large seat maps at A380 gates to give passengers an opportunity to preview their seat locations onboard. Perhaps something as simple as that could help?
Perhaps even a BP scanner at the gate, for passenger use, that displays a seat map for the flight and maybe a three or four second CGI walk-through of where the seat is located (with some cheeky reminders not to dump bags in bins away from your seat). Indeed, more generically, it amazes me that the multiple screens at each gate in modern facilities such as T5 aren’t used by the airlines to brief passengers on flight information – or even to advertise their own services. Given the acute boredom of many of those who are harried into arriving at gates long before boarding commences, why not inform, entertain and, heaven-forfend, sell to them whilst they’re there?1 Sep 2011