A few months ago, we posted on how American Airlines has experimented with boarding passengers in randomly. Apparently, a scientist at Fermilab wrote a paper about this and other methods a few years (Astrophysicist shows why it takes so long to board a plane, WBEZ, Aug 29). Now he has gotten together with a web-based show test different ways of squeezing people into a metal tube:
He and a producer from the online video show “This vs That” recruited 72 people to act as passengers. They went to a replica airplane that matched the real deal in dimensions and seat layout, housed on a Hollywood soundstage. There, the passengers tried out the five different methods.
In this one trial, anyway, the random boarding was more efficient than filling the plane in blocks or front-to-back. The window-seat-first method took second place. The fastest method is one of Steffen’s own design: boarding alternating rows at the same time, starting with the window seats. The secret, he says, is that it leaves passengers elbow room to stow their luggage at the same time.
Here is what it looks like: