June 14, 2006

Idea: Under-the-seat carry-on boarding first

A recent entry at the website 43 Folders highlights some tips on packing light when you travel, suggesting among other things that you pack only one carry-on item when you fly. It reminds me of an idea I had after reading a recent article in Wired about how airlines use computer models to figure out the fastest way to get people on airplanes. From the Wired article:

[Scientists] looked at interference resulting from passengers obstructing the aisle, as well as that caused by seated passengers blocking a window or middle seat. They applied the equation to eight different boarding scenarios, looking at both front-to-back and outside-in systems. “Ultimately, the issue America West needed to address was time… We figured a system that reduced interference between passengers would also cut boarding time.”

So I’ve been thinking. It seems to me that a lot of passenger interference is caused by people blocking aisles to put things in the overhead bins. So why didn’t they run computer models which factored in boarding people by whether or not they have anything for the overhead bin?

What if the check-in kiosk, which already asks you how many bags you have to check, also asks, “Do you have anything to go in the overhead bin, such as a bag or jacket?” and considers your answer when assigning you a boarding group?

I don’t know where in the order these people should go for fastest boarding (first? last? interspersed?) but the computer can figure that out. I expect that people with nothing for the overhead bin will get in their seats faster than people with large carry-ons, and the plane can get off the ground much sooner.

Related: Idea: Advertisements on the Overhead Bins


yeah, but wouldn’t it only be like 5% of people with nothing to put overhead? pretty much everyone has something, no?

Actually, quite a few passengers board with just small carryons or laptop bags. I don’t know what the stats are, but it’s probably quite a bit more like a quarter.

Either way, this makes quite a bit of sense if you’ve ever waited for that small elderly woman four people ahead of you to fit her 50 pound rolling bag into the overhead bin (the wrong way).

Some way this has to be punitive for people with larger carry-ons. They are nearly always inconsiderate turds. Maybe they could be pulled onto the tarmac and beaten by baggage handlers.

This all assumes that everyone will follow the new system instead of just rushing the gate when the first boarding call is announced.

Just had an idea - why dont they make the overhead lockers run parallel to the seats ie each row of seats has its own locker then you could shuffle into ur seat reach the locker n clear isle for the rest of us…