A Better Way to Board An Airplane

Frequent fliers the world over may soon find themselves thanking a physicist named Jason Steffen. Back in 2008 he ran some computer simulations to find a more efficient way for travelers to board an airplane. Recent tests inside a mock cabin interior confirmed Steffen’s model to be both faster for the airline and easier for passengers, and best of all less time spent waiting in the aisle and jostling for overhead bin space.

[div class=attrib]From the New Scientist:[end-div]

The simulations showed that the best way was to board every other row of window seats on one side of the plane, starting from the back, then do the mirror image on the other side. The remaining window seats on the first side would follow, again starting from the back; then their counterparts on the second side; followed by the same procedure with middle seats and lastly aisles (see illustration).

In Steffen’s computer models, the strategy minimized traffic jams in the aisle and allowed multiple people to stow their luggage simultaneously. “It spread people out along the length of the aisle,” Steffen says. “They’d all put their stuff away and get out of the way at the same time.”

Steffen published his model in the Journal of Air Transport Management in 2008, then went back to his “day job” searching for extrasolar planets. He mostly forgot about the plane study until this May, when he received an email from Jon Hotchkiss, the producer of a new TV show called “This vs That.”

“It’s a show that answers the kinds of scientific questions that come up in people’s everyday life,” Hotchkiss says. He wanted to film an episode addressing the question of the best way to board a plane, and wanted Steffen on board as an expert commentator. Steffen jumped at the chance: “I said, hey, someone wants to test my theory? Sure!”

They, along with 72 volunteers and Hollywood extras, spent a day on a mock plane that has been used in movies such as Kill Bill and Miss Congeniality 2.

[div class=attrib]More from theSource here.[end-div]