Better boarding could save airlines $10m a year, says study

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By on Tuesday 11th Feb, 2014 at 09:10

An academic study recognises that too much boarding time is wasted as air passengers slowly shuffle around once on board, finding spaces for their bags in over-head compartments.

The study from Clarkson University School of Business in New York has come up with a new solution for airlines to speed the flow of passengers to their seats, and cut down on the work cabin crew will need to do to helping passengers stow their bags. The suggested solution is that airlines could cut boarding time by seating passengers based on how many carry-on bags they have with them.

This is an issue airlines have long pondered over. Some choose to board from the back of the plane to the front, while others seat passengers in the window seats first, then the middle seats and finally the aisle seats.

Under the boarding method suggested by R. John Milne, an assistant professor of engineering management at Clarkson University, passengers are seated from the back of the plane to the front and from the windows to the aisles.

Spreading the luggage load

Milne also suggests airlines seat passengers in a way that spreads the carry-on luggage throughout the plane. In each row, the airline would seat at least one passenger with two bags, one passenger with one bag and one passenger with no bags. “So now you don’t have delays where people are trying to cram all their luggage in the overhead compartment,” Milne is quoted saying in an interview.

Milne’s study found that this boarding method can cut seating time by an average of 3% compared with a back-to-front boarding scheme. For a large carrier, the process could save up to $10 million per year, according to his study, published this month in the Journal of Air Transport Management.

To date the solution has only been tested on a computer programme, but it is expected that an airline will sign up to trial the new system in the near future.

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