The next time you’re suffering through a long boarding procedure at Philadelphia International Airport, you might make a suggestion to the gate attendants to get things moving just a little bit faster. If they don’t believe you, tell them you have physics on your side.
NPR reported yesterday the results of a study by the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics that suggests that the typical process of boarding sequential rows or blocks of people is among the least efficient ways of getting people on an airplane.
After testing how long it took 72 people to board a 12-row mock plane from a movie set, researchers found that the best meethos came from particle astrophysicist Jason H. Steffen, one of the lead writers of the study. The “Steffen method” involves loading passengers by alternating rows, going from back to front, loading passengers in window seats, then middle seats, then aisle seats in each row.
Why do airlines care? It saves them money to reduce boarding time.