Physicist says Boarding by rows is worst possible way

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Quasiconvexity, Aug 30, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Quasiconvexity
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  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    "But surely not all boarding procedures are created equal—simply boarding the plane back to front would be the easiest and most efficient method, right? Wrong. In fact, boarding by sequential rows is the worst possible approach (pdf), according to a new study by physicist Jason Steffen of the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics."

    Huh, so I take it Particle Astrophysics is a dead field that doesn't require any further research? :eek:
     
  3. Quasiconvexity
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    I suspect the guy is a frequent flier, and probably on FT or MP :)
     
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  4. uggboy
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    :eek: Confusion, what to believe?:p
     
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  5. Quasiconvexity
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    Hopefully you will always be upgraded so wont have to bother about boarding order in the back ;)
     
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  6. thrashsoundly
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    All the methods have their merits and disadvantages. If we could prearrange all passengers prior to boarding, advanced methods could work. The reality is that passengers don't all arrive at the same time to board with their zone or row, throwing a wrench into any carefully devised plan. While it is an interesting read, this paper fails to incorporate passenger arrival chaos. Steffan should rexamine his approach looking more into the unfortunate reality of passenger tardiness.

    Generally speaking, boarding passengers seems at best to be a step above cat-herding. Maybe Steffan needs to relate Heisenberg's priciple to his approach. After all, aren't the gate attendants seemingly always looking for someone and trying to figure out where they are going?
     
  7. PhlyingRPh
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    [Edited to add second paragraph]

    The real challenge to designing an effective boarding process is optimizing the dual queue system at the gate. The best use of this system is without doubt the old UA process where the run-up to boarding involved Ultra Premium's loaded in one lane and lower value premium's in the second. This assured that the latter group was ready to go as soon as the first boarded. Once these groups were done, other pax could then board through the second lane, while the first remained open to any straggling ultra-premiums.

    One way of optimizing this process further might be to allow the third wave of passengers to line up in the same lane ultra-premiums occupied just as the lower premiums begin boarding through the second lane, then allowing wave four to queue up in the second lane as wave three starts to board, and so on and so on. Of course this takes away a dedicated lane for ultra premiums to access at any time during the boarding process.
     
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  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    One way to speed up boarding would be to get those dual-end jetways to work reliably, so people could board from both ends of the plane. Not sure what they cost, but it's hard to believe that they couldn't be made to work reliably.

    http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_7324922
     
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  9. NYBanker
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    Looking at some images of the den system, I can see the challenge in the design. Telescoping horizontally for 100 feet would be very difficult.

    Though not using an over-the-wing design, roll the clock back 40 years...dual jet bridges were used at places like PA's JFK terminal and by UA at lax. I suspect it took a few minutes extra for the tug to position each plane for the configurations - perhaps eroding the savings. You can still see some remnants of the setup in the front part of T3 at JFK (till it is torn down).

    Today, a number of ports have triple bridges set up.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. kwai
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    Location and velocity can never be known at the same time. :D
     
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  11. Wandering Aramean
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    I wholly disagree with both of these premises.

    A dual queue system doesn't solve anything. If you read the study you'll see that F first is basically the same as a 2-5 row "block" of boarding followed by a set of random for the others. That doesn't add any efficiencies at all to the process.

    The problem has NEVER been that there aren't people waiting for the GA to take their boarding pas. The problem is that once they get past the GA there are all sorts of inefficiencies.

    This doesn't make anything go faster. That straggler actually disrupts the other flow.

    What you're effectively advocating here is the the "random" as detailed in the study which is very similar to the WN process, but with assigned seats. The study author surmises that the WN approach is actually slightly MORE efficient than random because passengers will avoid situations that slow them down more than not.

    The problem that is not considered in any of these simulations is that of Elites. The folks who demand to board first because they are "special" actually slow down the process. Pretty much anyone who has analyzed that aspect of the situation agrees with the analysis but has chosen to still let elites board first. Not because it is more efficient, but because they feel they have to for service reasons.
     
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    The flow through the boarding pass reader, yes. But in my experience it doesn't really impact the boarding otherwise, because that straggler will soon end up in that queue that's already built-up in the jetway. Getting people fast enough into the jetway has never been a problem IME.
     
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  13. PhlyingRPh
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    Just to say that my thoughts on the subject of boarding come from a desire to balance efficiency, reduce chaos at the gate and provide perks/recognition to elites. That's why I used the term "effective" rather than "quickest" or "most efficient" in my post. Based on your response, you are focussed on getting Butts in seats as quickly as possible, and from that standpoint, your observations on my post are mostly valid.

    As a UA-CO flyer, my main concern over the past year has been chaos at the gate as a result of abandoning the pre-merger boarding process. Hence my emphasis on pre-loading folks into lanes as the opportunity arises and then releasing them into the jetway. The jetway queue's can be mitigated by timing the release of individual lanes. To avoid GA error, it could involve a camera view of the plane door or a phonecall from the FA at the front door at the optimal release time.
     
  14. Jimgotkp
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    If only we can have three jetbridges on every airplane including the CRJ's..... *fantasy land*
     
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Why? Does it bother you more when you stand in the jetway queue vs. the cloud of people pushing towards the gate agent?

    Now, if people were polite enough to just sit on their butts in the waiting area until their group is called and then politely lined up to efficiently board, then it would make a difference. But that seems impossible.
     
  16. Wandering Aramean
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    I guess I don't know what "effective" means in your context. I do not think that the queuing system you've described does anything for efficiency or for reducing chaos. The only thing it offers is priority to the GA for top-tier elites. That's not particularly effective for anyone other than those elites.
     

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