A Faster Way to Board Planes, According to Science

Tuesday February 12, 2019 Written by Toby

Plane G1

Physics has done a lot to streamline the aviation industry. For starters, it plays a critical role in getting planes off the ground and keeping them there, which has been a major improvement to the flight experience. It took an astrophysicist to work out the next big breakthrough: eliminating the headache of slow boarding times.

A video from YouTuber CGP Grey does an excellent job of illustrating the predicament we’re in now. Using friendly smiley faces, it shows how current boarding practices are unnecessarily laborious. The biggest delays are caused by people holding up the queue when they stop to pop their baggage in the overhead compartments. This doesn’t even take into account the effect of the jerk in 26B who spent the past five minutes rummaging through his bag to try to find his headphones.

The most efficient boarding method, the video shows, comes courtesy of astrophysicist Jason Steffen. Known as the Steffen Method, it involves boarding people from back to front in alternating rows on alternating sides from windows to aisle. It’s a mouthful, but so is apologising to the person sitting in the aisle seat and asking them to get up so you can squeeze into your window seat.

Here’s one thing it doesn’t take an astrophysicist to work out: cutting in line at the boarding queue won’t get you to your destination any faster than the people behind you. That’s right, we’re talking to you, guy in 8D. We all know someone wasn’t ‘saving your spot’.