Tests Reveal Most Efficient Boarding Method

Crowded and awkward aircraft boarding may soon be a thing of the past, potentially saving millions for airlines and airports. Passenger boarding tests have revealed that the most widely used method of boarding a plane is in fact one of the least efficient, leading the way for new a approach devised by the Astrophysicist Dr Janson Steffen.

Dr Steffen, based at the National Laboratory in Illinois, has put forward the aptly named “Steffen Method”, which favours seating passengers using alternating rows, almost halving boarding time when compared to filling seats through rear-to-front block boarding. Previously airlines had favoured the Wilma Method, which seats passengers from window seats outward.

The Steffen Method advocates boarding using every other window seat first, progressing from the rear of the plane forwards, for example, using seat 22A followed by 20A, 18A etc and then filling seats 21A and 19A. The method is repeated for the aisle seats in exactly the same way, building up layers of alternating seating.

Efficient Boarding Method
The Steffen Method was put to the test by television producer, Jon Hotchkiss, for the show This v That, which similar to Dr Steffen, was examining the problems raised by the passenger boarding process, such as congestion and overcrowding.

The Steffen Method, amongst others, were put through their paces using a scale model of a 758 aircraft and 72 volunteers, all with carry on luggage. The passenger boarding scenarios included Block Boarding, Wilma Method, Steffen Method and Random.

The results of the tests showed that block boarding was the least efficient method of boarding, coming in at just under seven minutes. Surprisingly, the typically chaotic Random method, actually fared much better at 5:45. This may be due to passengers being able to use the whole of the aircraft to fill available space, rather than queuing from the back and blocking access to available seating.

The Steffen and Wilma methods were the most efficient boarding methods, with Wilma coming in at 4:13 and Steffen at an impressive 3:36. As reported by the BBC, Dr Steffen stated that the results reflected the study he made in 2008.