Model Cuts Plane Boarding Times by Half

Current method not efficient, physicist says

Aug 31, 2011
Outside Magazine

An astrophysicist in Illinois has developed and tested a new way to get passengers on an airplane, one that he says could cut boarding times by half. Rather than board in blocks or chunks of seating, which is standard procedure on airlines across the world, physicist Jason Steffen of the Fermilab predicted in a 2008 paper that boarding passengers in window seats first and alternating rows would dramatically cut boarding times. Steffen first published his model in the Journal of Air Transport Management to little reaction three years ago. But he may get more attention this time around: in a recent test, Steffen had 72 volunteers board a mock 757 fuselage located on a Southern California sound stage. Using his model—called the Steffen Method—the passengers loaded up nearly twice as fast as the normal model. Steffen published his new results last week in a follow-up paper, claiming that the Steffen Method could save the airline industry more than a billion dollars each year.


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