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Astrophysicist Figures Out Most Efficient Plane Boarding Techniques


"Science may not be able to cure stupidity but it can, at least, speed it up."

You wouldn't think it should be so difficult to efficiently board an airplane, but we all know how wrong this  thought is in reality. It took a particle physicist from Fermilab to tell give us a more efficient boarding procedure -- and to tell us that random boarding is better than what we do now.

The specific boarding method developed by Dr. Jason Steffen is so efficient, Consumerist (via Popular Science) reports, that it can cut boarding time in half. Although Steffen came up with this boarding technique of his own two years ago -- (Why haven't we seen changes yet?) but he recently tested three different methods of boarding to see what was most effective:

  • Boarding the plane in blocks (think "Now calling all passengers in Zone 1 and 2")
  • Random boarding (similar to Southwest's method)
  • The Steffen Method

What Steffen found, aside from the fact that his method was best (naturally), is that random boarding still more efficient than boarding according to zones. Here's how the Steffen Method Works, according to Popular Science:

First, passengers sitting in the window seats on one side of the plane all board at once, in alternating rows (row 1, 3, 5, etc.). Then the same is done on the other side of the plane. Then the middle seats, still in alternating rows, boards on the first side of the plane. That continues with the other side's middle seats, then (first one and then the other) aisle seats. Then, do it all again for the even-numbered rows.

See the Steffen Method in action:

As Consumerist observes, the Steffen Method maximizes aisle space making it more natural and efficient for passengers to effectively stow luggage and find their seat. The Steffen Method, as the video states, doesn't prevent hangups like boarding with children or passengers in the wrong seat. But, "it can at least speed it up."

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