Boarding a plane

So there is a civilized way to do this after all. Photo by Nate Steiner.

Getting people onto an aircraft and to their seats shouldn’t be rocket science, but it has taken an astrophysicist, of all things, to figure out the fastest way to board a plane.

While airlines typically usher passengers onto planes in a back-to-front, block row fashion, it turns out what works best is boarding passengers in alternating rows. This technique gives fliers enough elbow room to shove their carry-on into the overhead bins while other travelers look for their seats.

From personal experience, I would have guessed that the unassigned seating system used by some budget airlines (which basically results in a free-for-all dash to get the best seats) would be the fastest method. Alas, I’m no astrophysicist and it turns out this method is only the third best, after the boarding procedure that involves seating passengers in order of window seat/middle seat/aisle.

Whether the technique – known as the “Steffen Method” – will take off is anyone’s guess. But until we go back to the days of free checked baggage, this is likely our best hope of achieving wheels up on time.

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