Steffen proves more efficient way of plane boarding

by William ASTON on September 1, 2011

The most common method of boarding passenger planes has been proven as being among the least efficient, new tests have shown.

The best methods have been the subject of studies for years now but various approaches, for the first time ever, have now been put straight to the test.

Putting those in window seats on the plane first followed by those in the middle and aisle seats usually results in around a 40% gain in efficiency.

An approach named the Steffen method, which alternates rows in the strategy of window-middle-aisle, has been proven to nearly double boarding speed.

The method is named after Jason Steffen because of the man that first considered the problem of plane boarding three years ago in 2008, which is when he found himself waiting in a long boarding queue.

Steffen carried out a series of computer simulations in order to determine a method better than the usual “rear of the plane first” approach, and published his results in an issue of the Journal of Air Transport Management.

Before Steffen came along, several authors had proposed an order in which those seated in the window seats boarded the plane first, followed by those in the middle seats and then, lastly, those in aisle seats - presented as the Wilma method. Dr Steffen’s best results suggest a variant of this though.

The approach avoids any situation that would see passengers struggling to share the same physical space with one another at the same time.

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