How to get passengers onto planes is one of the in vogue topics for writers (see here and here for our past posts). Today the New York Times takes its shot at it (Most Annoying Airline Delays Might Just Be in the Boarding, Nov 1) and gives us some eye candy:
The article also reports that if you think boarding takes longer than it used to, you are right.
As it is, boarding time has doubled over the last decades, according to research by Boeing. It now takes 30 to 40 minutes to board about 140 passengers on a domestic flight, up from around 15 minutes in the 1970s.
If you want to see spiffy animation of different boarding techniques, click here.
There are, of course, a variety of reasons for why boarding times have crept up ranging from fuller planes to baggage fees. But there is also the question of what the airlines really want. Yes, having a plane sit at the gate a long time is inefficient. But having a painless, worry-free boarding policy for all customers limits the benefit of gaining elite status in the frequent flyer program or paying for priority. Less efficient turnarounds at the gate may be more than offset by revenue driven by greater differentiation between product offerings.