For Speedier Boarding, Airlines Could Assign Seats Based On Carry-On Bags

By distributing luggage evenly across each row, passengers could save a few seconds in boarding time and airlines could save tens of millions of dollars.

There are many pain points that come with flying, but researchers have devised a new, faster way to board planes.

With the help of Clarkson University business school professor R. John Milne, Alexander Kelly, an undergraduate studying computer science and mechanical engineering, ran thousands of airplane boarding simulations through a computer model. Their findings: By assigning passengers seats based on the number of carry-on bags they bring, airlines can speed up the boarding process so that each row would have a traveler with two bags, with one bag, and with no bags. The process could save several seconds in boarding time, Milne said, and evenly distribute luggage throughout the plane.

"You add that up over thousands of flights a day over the course of a year; it can really make a difference," Milne told ScienceDaily. "For instance, a large airline like Delta may be able to save about 10 million dollars a year."

More efficient boarding is a topic that also occupies Boeing. As the company's cabin-experience strategy leader, Pete Guard, who is charged with improving in-flight design and comfort, says Boeing has devised strategies to decrease boarding time, but the solution is ultimately up to the airlines to adopt.

There've been a number of design-centric attempts at improving air travel. Boeing, for instance, made a number of changes to its planes' interior, replacing bifold lavatory doors with panel doors. A new concept for airline seats called Morph replaces foam seats with a fabric stretched over the frame to accommodate bodies of different sizes. Even those ugly boarding passes travelers have been accustomed to are ripe for change, and designers have come up with ways to better convey their information.

[Image: Flickr user Franck Mahon]

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